Tigers Capitalize On Mistakes, Sink GT

CLEMSON – Even though he's only a freshman, Taylor Harbin's baseball knowledge far exceeds most players two or three years his senior. And that's why he knew what pitch to expect off Georgia Tech pitcher Matt Wieters with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

"I was looking off-speed," Harbin said. "That's what they threw all night. They'd only thrown me fastballs once."

Harbin got exactly what he was looking for and when Wieters threw a changeup that stayed up in the hitting zone, Harbin ripped it just over the outstretched glove of the shortstop to score two runs and give Clemson the dramatic 6-5 win over the Yellow Jackets Saturday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The win keeps the Tigers' (28-17, 13-7 ACC) hopes for the regular season ACC title alive. However, more importantly, it keeps their shot of hosting a regional in the NCAA playoffs intact.

"It's been a tough year," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "We just had to get ourselves in position to win. Finally we got some breaks."

Those "breaks" were viewed totally different by Georgia Tech (31-12, 17-6 ACC). The Yellow Jackets considered them a gift – literally.

After Harbin's game-winning hit, several Yellow Jacket players hurled expletives in the direction of the celebrating Clemson players. There was hard core name calling and they told the Tigers that they were welcome for the gift.

"That's fine," said Brad Chalk, who kept the two-out rally in the ninth alive by beating out a throw for the second baseman on an infield hit. Television replays showed the ball beat Chalk to the bag, but the umpire said the first baseman's foot came off the base.

"We'll take a win anyway we can."

Moments before Chalk's infield single, which caused Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall to storm from the dugout and argue about the call, Clemson pinch hitter Ben Hall hit a popup directly at home plate, which looked as though it was going to send the Tigers to their demise.

However, Georgia Tech's Whit Robbins, who was put in the game for defensive purposes, bumped into catcher Andy Hawranick, who was standing at the plate waiting for the ball to come down. The bump cause Hawranick to move to the side and the ball fell innocently to the ground for a foul ball to keep Hall's at-bat alive.

Hall then promptly smoked a single to put runners at first and second with two outs with Clemson trailing 5-3. Herman Demmink followed with a single to left, which scored Travis Storrer to make it 5-4 with runners on first and second.

Then came Chalk's controversial infield single to load the bases, which was crucial because it put the winning run in scoring position. It also allowed the stage to be set for Harbin.

But as good as Saturday night's win was, the Tigers know it will be diminished greatly should they come out and lose Sunday afternoon.

"We've got to come out tomorrow and win to keep our chances of hosting alive and to keep our chances in the conference alive."

The two teams conclude their three-game series Sunday at 2:00 PM at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

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