Addison Johnson's two-strike, two-out, flair double to left in the bottom of the ninth scored D.J. Mitchell from second and completed the Tigers' crazy 11-10 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
"We definitely needed that," said Johnson, a freshman. "We don't really have the record we were expecting and we just need to get on a roll and stick with it. Hopefully we can just carry the momentum with us."
The last half inning was about as improbable and wild as Clemson's win. The three key hits in the inning came from a .250 hitter, a .222 hitter and a .189 hitter.
With one out in the ninth, redshirt freshman Wilson Boyd, the .222 hitter, banged a triple that landed just beyond the outstretched arm of Georgia centerfield Jonathan Wyatt in right-center field.
"I got a good pitch on the inner half and I just tried to put a good swing on it," Boyd said. "I wasn't really sure if he was going to get to it or not, but you just have to run it out like we practice because you never know what's going to happen when you get the ball in the air. It just happened that he didn't get to it and it turned into a triple."
After another out, Mitchell, the .189 hitter, stroked a two-strike, two-out single to right to plate Boyd and tie it at 10-10. He then stole second base to set up the game-winning dramatics for Johnson.
"With two strikes, I just spread out and choked up and he threw me one on the outer half and I just smacked it to right field," Mitchell said.
With two strikes on him, Johnson choked up on the bat and was just trying to put the ball in play. He got a pitch he could handle and slapped a looper into shallow left, where it appeared leftfielder Matt Cerione had a beat on it.
Cerione lunged, had the ball in his glove, did a summersault, and came up with his arm and glove raised in the air to show the umpire that he had indeed caught it. But as he showed the ump, the ball came out of his glove while he was jubilantly jumping up and down.
The ump then ruled it was a base hit, which meant the Tigers (20-9) had swept the two-game series with Georgia (10-19).
"You have to come up with control and the ball popped out," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "It's a tough call for an umpire to make. It was a gutsy call and I think he felt that he got it right. I don't know if he had control when he came up."
And while the three clutch hits in the ninth were obviously big, they mean absolutely nothing if it wasn't for Boyd's earlier triple in the seventh inning that scored three runs to trim a five-run Georgia lead to two. He later scored to cut the lead to one, which allowed for the heroics in the ninth.
"The (triple) down the right-field line with the bases loaded was huge," Leggett said. "They had just scored three runs and we had to answer."
In three straight innings – fifth, sixth and seventh – Georgia scored three runs to build a 10-5 lead. But to the Tigers' credit, they answered with eight runs of their own over that same span, capped by Boyd's three-run triple to make it 10-9.
Meanwhile Georgia blasted a season-high four home runs and cranked out all those hits against eight Tiger pitchers.
The only two pitchers that had really any kind of success were starter Matt Zoltak, who gave up just one run over three innings of work, and Justin Sarratt, who pitched an innings and two-thirds of relief in the seventh and eighth innings.
He stopped the bleeding, which helped Clemson to scratch its way back into the game.
But in a season where the pitching has carried the offense, the tables were turned Wednesday night. And three of those that have struggled with the bat thus far had everything working against Georgia.
Boyd, Mitchell and Johnson combined to go 6-for-10, with three runs scored, seven RBI, three walks and three stolen bases.
"I've been waiting for that," Leggett said. "That's big. We needed that bad. I think the best thing we learned tonight is that we can build an inning and we can swing the bats late in the game against a good pitcher."
NOTE: CUTigers.com has learned that star reliever Daniel Moskos has been moved to the starting rotation and he will get his first-career start Friday night at Virginia Tech.
Leggett said it is something that Moskos (2.49 ERA) wanted to do and he thinks the hard-throwing junior will be successful because of his outstanding, four-pitch repertoire.
Senior Stephen Clyne (4-0), who has allowed only one earned run in 14 appearances and 23-and-a-third innings, will assume the closer duties.
CLEMSON PLAYER OF THE GAME: Wilson Boyd
The redshirt freshman went 2-for-3, with two triples, two runs scored and three RBIs. His two triples are largely responsible for Clemson's win.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We definitely needed that. We don't really have the record we were expecting and we just need to get on a roll and stick with it. Hopefully we can just carry the momentum with us," said freshman outfielder Addison Johnson, who got the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth.
Tigers Rally Past Georgia
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