Oh, How Sweep It Is!

It has already been uttered many times, and it will be reiterated many more times. Jeff Baker is THE MAN. The junior All-American wasted no time in the first game of the 2002 season in setting a high standard for himself and for the rest of the Clemson team.

In only his first at bat of the new season he made a resounding statement by nearly clearing the new 40 foot wall in straight-away center field before following up with another home run in his second at bat, and setting the pace for what many believe will be a banner year for the outstanding Clemson team.

Two days later, he calmly stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with the home team trailing by 1, and the bases loaded and one out, and ripped a 2-2 pitch into the corner in right field, scoring not only the tying and go-ahead runs, but a much needed insurance run ultimately resulting in a spectacular Clemson comeback victory to complete the weekend sweep.

As for the rest of the team, not too darn shabby either, as some other stars emerged. Juco transfer David Slevin looked very solid defensively at second, and provided some valuable pop to the Clemson lineup, going three for four in Saturday's win and then kicking off Sunday's thrilling Clemson rally in the eighth with a leadoff single.

Backup freshman catcher Collin Mahoney blasted a home run in his first career start Sunday, tying the game at a point when the Tigers really needed a shot in the arm offensively.

Khalil Greene continued his standout play from last year by getting two RBI on Friday, two more on Saturday, and drawing a bases loaded walk in the eighth on Sunday, setting up Baker's heroics.

Clemson won the opener despite a sub-par performance by all-world ace Steve Reba who didn't have his best stuff and struggled with his control. Matt Henrie and Steven Jackson followed up with very solid starts though, especially Jackson who failed to get the decision Sunday after giving up only one run through six innings.

Closer Paul Harrelson earned the save easily on Friday, and pitched out of a self-inflicted jam to hang on and get the save on Sunday. Freshman Tyler Lumsden looked very sharp in his first appearance for Clemson and earned the save on Saturday.

Middle reliever BJ LaMura pitched two solid innings on Friday before handing the game over to Harrelson.

Greene, Baker and Johnson, the Tigers' three, four and five hitters combined to go seven for twelve to lead the charge on Friday. Slevin, Greene, Kyle Frank and freshman designated hitter Jeff Hourigan paced the Tigers on Saturday, each with multiple hits.

In the heart-stopping eighth inning on Sunday, Steve Pyzik drew a walk following the leadoff single by Slevin to set up juco transfer outfielder LJ DeMaino, who took one for the team (on the ankle) to load the bases with no outs.

After a strikeout by Frank, and the walk by Greene, All-American Jeff Baker stepped to the plate and did what All-Americans do, roping a double into right field clearing the bases and rescuing the game and the series sweep for his team.

And that is why Jeff Baker is THE MAN.

And oh, how sweep it is!

CUTigers.com Top Stories