This weekend saw the No. 5 Jackets sweep Clemson at Russ Chandler Stadium. Tech wrapped up three consecutive wins against the No. 16 Tigers, giving the Jackets a 15-3 record this season in the ACC. Tech went on to defeat Georgia Southern in a pair of midweek games to improve to 33-5 this season.
The first of the three weekend games saw Tech edge out Clemson in an 8-6 win over the Tigers in a tight game. Tech clinched the win in the bottom of the tenth when junior outfielder Chase Burnette hit a two-out, walk-off home run over the wall in the right center field against Clemson pitcher David Haselden led the Jackets to victory late Friday night.
“It’s a great feeling,” Burnette said. “It is one of those things you think about as a kid at the park tossing the ball up and hitting it. You are dreaming about hitting a walk-off home run. That is what everybody would love to do, and it is a really good feeling.”
The game started off with Clemson scoring two early runs against junior pitcher Deck McGuire. The Jackets did not answer these runs until scoring a string of six runs at the bottom of the second. The Tigers did not respond until the top of the fifth, when they scored four runs, but these would be the last runs the Tigers would get for the rest of the game. Tech, down one run in the bottom of the sixth, pulled even with the Tigers when junior designated hitter Thomas Nichols scored Tech’s sixth run. Following this, a defensive battle ensued between the Tigers and the Jackets that grew tense in the late innings.
In the top of the tenth, senior pitcher Andrew Robinson entered the game after Clemson had loaded the bases. After striking out Clemson outfielder Kyle Parker, Robinson forced Clemson infielder John Hinson to hit a line drive to junior shortstop Derek Dietrich, ending the inning and the Tigers’ rally.
In the bottom half, with Tech sophomore third baseman Matt Skole on base, Burnette connected on his game-winning homer. Every Tech position player had a hit in the win.
“When you have a good year, those things happen,” said Tech Head Coach Danny Hall. “We feel like we have a lot of guys that can hit, and we feel like we have a lot of guys that can contribute on the mound and they have been doing a great job. And then Chase Burnette, what can I say. That was special right there.”
Tech was able to overcome a rough start by junior right-hander Deck McGuire, who was victimized by two home runs at key moments and allowed six runs in seven innings.
The good feelings persisted on Saturday, with Tech again beating the Clemson Tigers 4-3 in a close game. Dietrich and junior designated hitter Thomas Nichols both hit home runs, giving Tech 14 consecutive games with at least one home run.
The real turning point of the game occurred when Tech was down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Sophomore second baseman Jacob Esch drove Burnette home to tie the score, and the Jackets took the lead in the same inning when junior center fielder Jeff Rowland singled to center, allowing Esch to score and put Tech ahead 4-3.
The third game of the series was not nearly as close as the first two. Tech scored at least one run in every inning, taking advantage of the struggles of Clemson’s pitchers, and the Jackets won 11-3 to complete the sweep.
Junior right-hander Brandon Cumpton had a solid start, allowing three runs (two earned) in seven innings. Robinson pitched the ninth and picked up the save.
After the Jackets opened the scoring with a run on an RBI single by junior catcher Cole Leonida in the bottom of the first, Clemson responded with a Parker home run in the top of the second.
Tech answered with four runs in the bottom of the second. Rowland provided most of the scoring when, with the bases loaded, he hit a drive down the right-field line for a bases-clearing triple.
Even though Clemson put men on base throughout the game, they were unable to translate these into definite runs. Tech picked up its final run on an eighth-inning Esch home run and won 11-3.
“Anytime you can sweep Clemson is huge,” Hall said. “The first two games could have gone either way. We put a little distance between ourselves today, but they are a great team and are going to finish high on the side over there. Anytime you can beat Clemson, it is a good day.”
Esch, Rowland and senior first baseman Tony Plagman had three hits apiece. Sophomore left-hander Jed Bradley got the win in the Sunday start, going seven innings and allowing three runs while striking out eight.
Following their weekend sweep of the Tigers, the Jackets hosted a two game series against Georgia Southern. Tech swept GSU, and outscored them by a combined score of 24-6.
On Tuesday, April 20, Tech sent freshman pitcher Mark Pope to the mound for the first game of the series. Pope stayed perfect on the season at 6-0 and only gave up two runs in eight innings.
After tying the game at two in the third inning, Tech took the lead in the fifth with two homers by Dietrich and Nichols.
Senior pitcher Patrick Long closed out the Eagles in the ninth by recording two key strikeouts.
In Wednesday’s game, Tech used a huge day offensively en route to an 18-4 win.
Hall decided to allow four different pitchers to relieve freshman pitcher Buck Farmer who only recorded three innings of work but did pick up his fourth win of the season.
Nichols led the Jackets with two homers, two doubles and five RBIs. Senior first baseman Plagman helped contribute to the victory by adding four hits, including his 14th homer of the season.