Hogan Blasts Walk-Off After Miraculous Rally

CLEMSON – It's probably a safe bet that Georgia Tech catcher Nick Scherer has never heard of former Brooklyn Dodger catcher Mickey Owen. But after what transpired Friday night, he likely soon will.

Owen earned a place in baseball lore for a costly passed ball with two outs and two strikes during the 1941 World Series, which allowed the New York Yankees to rally to score four runs and hold on to win Game 4, 7-4.

Scherer's passed ball with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the 10th allowed Clemson's D.J. Mitchell to score from third and tie the game, which set up Doug Hogan's dramatic, game-winning home run one inning later as the No. 19 Tigers escaped with a 3-2 improbable victory against No. 24 Georgia Tech Friday night at a full Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

"We just took advantage of it," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "I'm just proud of how much we battled. … That shows toughness. We were that close to walking out of here and feeling lousy."

Four times in the bottom of the 10th inning, the Tigers (28-14, 12-7 ACC) were just one strike away from losing the game. But due to a never-say-die attitude and some mistakes on Georgia Tech's part, Clemson pulled off a mini miracle.

The Tigers scored two runs in the bottom of that inning, all of them coming with two outs and at least two strikes to tie things up, before Hogan smoked a fastball that just barely cleared the wall in left-centerfield in the 11th to give the Tigers the win.

Neither team managed to score a run in regulation and in the top of the 10th, the No. 24 Yellow Jackets (26-16, 13-8 ACC) scored two runs to make it 2-0 and what seemed like an insurmountable lead for Clemson, which had managed just four hits to that point.

The bottom of the inning, Georgia Tech relief pitcher Brad Rulon got two quick outs and had two strikes on pinch hitter Alex Lee. But the freshman hung tough and slapped a two-out single to left to keep the inning going and send Mitchell to the plate.

Mitchell also fell behind in the count and quickly had two strikes. Then Rulon tossed a curve ball that had the sophomore swinging wildly in vain.

The pitch was so bad and wild that even the catcher couldn't corral it and it wound up going all the way to the backstop, which allowed Mitchell to reach first base even though he had struck out swinging.

"I didn't want to strike out again in the ninth looking like I did (last week against Virginia with the bases loaded)," Mitchell said. "(The pitch) wasn't even close, but I was pretty much up there hacking."

The wild pitch also allowed Lee to scamper to third after he had previously taken second on a pervious wild pitch.

With runners on first and third, Wilson Boyd quickly got two strikes on him by Rulon, but once again, the Tigers stayed alive after he stroked a single to right that scored Lee and moved Mitchell to third and make it 2-1.

Up next came hitter Taylor Harbin and a pitching change, which moved Yellow Jackets catcher Matt Wieters to the mound and the backup Scherer behind the plate.

Wieters was hitting the mid 90s on the radar gun and Harbin, too, quickly got two strikes on him. But on the second strike, Scherer dropped the ball and allowed it to go all the way to the backstop, which allowed Mitchell to streak home and tie the game at 2-2.

"I saw it get behind him and I took off," Mitchell said. "I didn't think it was over. We weren't going to give up."

The Tigers failed to score again in the inning to send it to the 11th, but the momentum was clearly on their side.

After Clemson pitcher Alan Farina mowed down the Yellow Jackets in the top half of the inning, Hogan came to the plate as the leadoff hitter.

Then, on a one ball, one strike count, he ripped his eighth homer of the year to end the game and send the Tigers dugout into a frenzy.

"I knew it had a chance," Hogan said. "We just kept chipping away just to stay alive."

Leggett said he knew the outcome would likely fall on the shoulders of Hogan, who had struggled prior to his last at-bat.

"He had a rough night until the end," Leggett said. "We always preach that it's going to come back to you, so you have to keep your head in the game."

And while Scherer's passed ball didn't happen in the World Series, it could still prove to be just as important for the Tigers if they can string together some wins and get on a roll.

"I hope we can build off of this," Leggett said. "We've got another tough ballgame tomorrow and Sunday."

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