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May 25, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. - Dominic Leone and David Haselden combined to shut down Georgia Tech, leading the sixth-seed Clemson Tigers (40-17) to a 9-0 victory over the third-seed Yellow Jackets (39-18) in the opening game of the 2011 ACC Tournament.
Starter Leone (6-2) went five innings and earned the win, after working out of several jams when the game was still tight.
Georgia Tech had Leone on the ropes early, loading the bases in the first. With one out, Jacob Esch walked and advanced to second on a single by Matt Skole. Leone issued another walk, this time to Jake Davies. But Leone induced Sam Dove to ground into a fielder's choice at the plate and struck out Daniel Palka to end the inning.
Leone called this sequence "a crucial point in the game. I tried to bear down and throw strikes and let my defense make plays."
Georgia Tech second baseman Matt Hyde doubled off the left-field wall to start the bottom of the second for the Yellow Jackets. But Leone notched a pair of strike outs and emerged unscathed.
Clemson drew first blood in the fourth. Will Lamb singled with one out and advanced to third on a two-out single by Jeff Schaus. Chris Epps had grounded into a double play in the same situation in the first but took advantage of a second chance. The senior from Stone Mountain, Georgia drove a 2-1 fastball deep into the right-field stands, putting Clemson up 3-0.
The home run was Epps' ninth of the season. Epps also had a superb running catch on a Matt Skole liner in the third.
Leone saved his best for last. Speedy Tech center fielder Kyle Wren led off the fifth with a triple down the right-field line. The heart of the Yellow Jackets order couldn't bring him in, as Leone retired Jacob Esch on a pop-out and fanned Skole and Dove.
Leone gave way to his bullpen after five innings. Haselden pitched four scoreless innings, earning his third save of the season.
Clemson added to its lead in the seventh. Catcher Spencer Kieboom led off with a walk. Jason Stolz bunted into a fielder's choice. John Hinson lashed a double off the left-field wall and Phil Pohl scored Stolz with a sacrifice fly. That drove Pope (11-4) from the mound.
Pope said that he "didn't have a feel for my slider and they jumped on my first-pitch fastballs."
Three Georgia Tech relievers finished up.
Clemson broke open the game in the ninth, scoring five runs. Richie Shaffer and Jeff Schaus each had a two-run double in the inning.
Schaus ended the game with four hits in five at-bats.
Clemson plays Florida State Thursday at 3 p.m., while Georgia Tech plays NC State that night.
Attendance at Durham Bulls Athletic Park was announced as 1,571.
Clemson's 9-0 win marks the first time since June 1, 2008, that Georgia Tech has been shutout. The last time that the Yellow Jackets failed to score was an 8-0 loss to Georgia in an NCAA regional in Athens, Ga., a span of 177 games.
The 9-0 Clemson win is the first shutout in ACC Tournament play since May 23, 2008, when North Carolina whitewashed Wake Forest 2-0 in Jacksonville, Fla.
With the win, Jack Leggett is now 214-199 versus ranked opponents in his career ... Clemson now leads the 109-year-old series 103-100 with four ties ... the Tigers are 16-9 against Georgia Tech in ACC Tournament play.
Led by Jeff Schaus' four hits, eight of Clemson's nine starters collected at least one hit
Chris Epps' fourth-inning three run home run was the 17th of his career and his first in ACC Tournament play ... Jeff Schaus' ninth-inning double was the 60th of his career, tops among active ACC players and tied for 27th among ACC career leaders ... after going winless in his first seven outings of the season, pitcher Dominic Leone has now won six of his last seven decisions ... Jeff Stolz's ninth-inning stolen base was the ACC-leading 100th of the season for the Tigers.
Kyle Wren's fifth inning triple was his league-leading seventh of the season ... Wren has now reached base in 52 of Tech's 57 games and has at least one hit in 47 of the 57 games.