Yellow Jackets Turn Back Tigers

Photo by Sara D. Davis for theACC.com

Georgia Tech moves to 2-1 in pool play, remains in contention for Sunday's Championship.

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Georgia Tech made a strong pitch to reach the ACC Baseball Championship final on Friday afternoon.

Starting right-hander Dusty Isaacs and left-handed reliever Sam Clay combined on a four-hitter with 13 strikeouts, and Mott Hyde hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning as the ninth-seeded Yellow Jackets blanked fifth-seeded Clemson, 3-0, to keep their title hopes alive.

Georgia Tech (35-25 overall) finished 2-1 in Pool A play and will await the outcome of Saturday morning’s game between fourth-seeded Duke and top-seeded Miami. The Blue Devils would advance to Sunday’s 1 p.m. title game with a win, but a Miami victory would put the Yellow Jackets in the finals for the second time in three years.

Clemson (36-23) was eliminated from ACC title contention but remains hopeful a postseason berth when the NCAA announces its tournament selections on Monday.

Isaacs (7-5) worked the first five innings, allowing one hit while walking four batters and striking out seven. He held the Tigers hitless until Tyler Slaton’s two-out single in the bottom of the fifth. The Tech senior made his first start since last May 31 versus Illinois in the NCAA Nashville Regional, and earned the win after recording saves in the Yellow Jackets’ earlier ACC Championship wins this week over Wake Forest and Miami.

“(I was) trying to use all four pitches, which is something I have not been able to do much this year being in relief,” Isaacs said. “I threw some good change ups, fastballs, sliders, couple curveballs, trying to mix it up to keep them off balance.”

Clay went four innings to earn his eighth save of the year, allowing three hits while striking out six and walking none. Clay retired eight straight batters during one stretch. Then, after yielding one-out singles to Garrett Boulware and Jay Baum in the bottom of the ninth, he struck out Shane Kennedy looking and Chris Okey swinging to end the game. 

“Can't say enough about the performance of Dusty and Sam Clay,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. “Those two guys were very dominant for us today.”

The Tigers came up short despite a strong effort from right-hander Clate Schmidt, who went 8 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on eight hits while walking just one batter and striking out six.

“I thought Clate did a great job for us, went out and pitched in a great situation and gave us everything he had, put us in a position to win,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. “We could just not get anything going offensively.”

But Schmidt (5-7) refused pin the loss on the Tiger hitters.

“I can't be mad at them, because they bailed me out plenty of other times, and it's just how it rolled today,” he said.

After leaving two men on base in each of the first two innings, the Yellow Jackets finally pushed a run home in top of the fifth. Georgia Tech opened the frame with four straight base hits, the last an RBI single by Thomas Smith that made it 1-0 and left the bases loaded. But Schmidt averted further damage by retiring AJ Murray on a called third strike and then coaxing Connor Justus into a double-play grounder to short.

Schmidt kept the Tigers within a run until the ninth. Schmidt hit Mitch Earnest with a pitch to open the inning. Daniel Spignola followed with a sacrifice bunt, and Clemson closer Matt Campbell came on to face Hyde.
Hyde worked the count to 3-2 before driving a pitch over the wall in left for the two-run shot that made it 3-0 and closed out the scoring.

“We got a timely hit early from Smitty to give us the lead, and Mott, late, gave us some distance, thank God, in that ninth inning, because he gave us a little breathing room,” Hall said. “As we knew, Clemson is going to fight you to the last out and we knew they would probably make a little run at us, and they did, but Sam closed it out.”