OMAHA, Neb. -- When Clemson is trailing in the late innings,
The top-seeded Tigers pulled out their fourth come-from-behind
victory in as many games, this time striking for all their runs in
the eighth inning of an 8-4 win over Georgia Tech in the College
World Series opener Friday.
Andy D'Alessio's three-run homer gave the Tigers the lead in the
biggest late-game CWS comeback in 20 years.
"Your team has to believe, and your team has to have the
weapons to be able to do it," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said.
"Our team believes that you're never out of it until the final
out. You can always come back."
No team had come back from four or more runs down in the eighth
inning to win in the CWS since Arizona rallied from a six-run
deficit to beat Maine 8-7 in 1986.
Clemson (53-14) advanced to a Bracket 1 game Sunday against the
winner of Friday night's meeting between Cal State Fullerton and
North Carolina. Georgia Tech (50-17) plays the loser of that game.
The Tigers beat fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member Georgia
Tech for the fourth time in seven meetings this season. It was the
second time in a row the Tigers had used a big inning to beat the
Yellow Jackets. Clemson scored 10 runs in the ninth inning of a
16-11 victory at the ACC tournament.
Until the eighth Friday, it looked as if things were well in
hand for the Yellow Jackets. Tech starter Lee Hyde, who allowed two
hits over seven innings, left after giving up a walk and single to
start the eighth. Four pitchers followed and a total of 13 Clemson
batters went to the plate.
"It was a good game for us for seven innings," Tech coach
Danny Hall said. "Hyde pitched magnificent. He couldn't have
pitched any better than he did.
"It was a tough inning for us and it certainly was a
disappointing loss. Now we'll have to regroup for Sunday."
Georgia Tech was just the latest team to fall victim to "Cardiac Clemson."
The Tigers clinched a regional title by erasing a 5-4 deficit in
the seventh inning to beat Mississippi State 8-6.
In super regional against Oral Roberts, Tyler Colvin hit a
ninth-inning grand slam for an 11-8 victory, and the next day the
Tigers came back from a 4-0 deficit in the eighth to win 6-5.
Hyde had Georgia Tech in total control until the Yellow Jackets'
bullpen melted down.
"Obviously, Hyde was throwing a great game. But we were able to
wait him out," D'Alessio said. "Coach came up to me in the
seventh and told me it was going to come down to me, and I was able
to come up with the clutch hit."
Herman Demmink walked and Brad Chalk reached on an infield
single to start the eighth, chasing Hyde, who had thrown 103
"I wasn't really getting tired," Hyde said, "but I was
leaving pitches up."
Reliever Brad Rulon faced just one batter, getting pulled after
surrendering a two-run double to Marquez Smith to cut the Yellow
Jackets' lead to 4-2.
Ryan Turner (4-4) came on and gave up a single to Colvin. Turner
then threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt, allowing Smith to
score from second and Colvin to go to third. Taylor Harbin walked
before D'Alessio hit his 23rd homer of the season.
Adrian Casanova and pinch-hitter Ben Hall added RBI singles.
"Our bullpen has been outstanding all year," Hall said. "We
just didn't execute the pitches in the eighth. They're a great
team, and if you don't execute the pitches, they're going to make
you pay. We had a tough time stopping them."
Ryan Hinson (4-0) got the win after relieving Clemson starter
Sean Clark. Georgia Tech led 3-0 in the first after Wally Crancer
doubled and scored on Matt Wieters' single. Jeff Kindel followed
with his 14th home run of the season and third in three games, a
two-run shot helped over the center-field wall by a 23 mph wind.
Clark allowed just two hits over the next five innings. He gave
up a walk and single to open the seventh before Hinson relieved.
"I kind of settled down and did what I needed to do," Clark
said. "Fortunately, it worked out for us. Our team has incredible