FSU 9, CLEMSON 4: Seminoles overcome a four-run deficit to defeat the Tigers again.
By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- It's never easy to beat the same team four times in a week, especially when that team opens that week ranked No. 1 in the country.
So when Clemson took a 4-0 lead against Florida State on Thursday, it looked as if the Tigers were on their way to avenging a weekend sweep on their homefield.
Seminoles ace Matt Lynch shut out Clemson the rest of the way, patiently waiting for his teammates to find their bats in a five-run fifth inning on the way to a 9-4 victory that put Florida State in tonight's 7:30 Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament semifinal. FSU's opponent is Wake Forest.
"They're a beautiful baseball team, and to beat somebody the caliber of Clemson four times in a row is a great accomplishment," said FSU coach Mike Martin, whose team is potentially two wins from its first tournament title since 1997.
The Seminoles, buoyed by an 18-game winning streak and a largely garnet crowd, woke up and knocked Clemson starter Matt Henrie (10-4) out of the game in the fifth after getting just one hit in the first four innings.
Jerrod Brown, Tony Richie and Mike Futrell led off the inning with singles, and after a walk and sacrifice fly, FSU freshman Stephen Drew made it 4-3 with a double to rightfield. Tony McQuade's sacrifice fly tied the score, and Drew Barthelemy ripped a shot that glanced off the first baseman's glove and into rightfield for a 5-4 lead.
The Seminoles, 53-12 and ranked No. 1 in this week's Baseball Weekly/ESPN coaches poll, added single runs in the sixth and seventh and two more in the ninth on a Barthelemy home run, but Lynch didn't need it. He struck out nine while walking none and held Clemson superstar Khalil Greene to one hit, which moved him into a tie for second with John Fishel (Cal State-Fullerton, 1982-85) on the NCAA's career list with 379 hits.
"You saw the real Matt Lynch today," Martin said. "He went out there and kept his club in the ballgame -- our hitters were outstanding at-bat. Bart's home run certainly was big, but his base hit earlier was bigger. I was just very pleased for all of them."
Lynch (13-1) ran into trouble in the second when the bottom of Clemson's lineup got three consecutive singles, the last of which came when Lynch's foot missed first base as he took a throw after a grounder to second baseman Bryan Zech. Robert Valiente followed with a triple for a 4-0 lead that stood until FSU's rally in the fifth.
"In the fifth, they got the leadoff man on base and we stopped doing the things we were doing earlier," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "They got the five runs they needed to take the lead and then their confidence started to roll, and we were looking up out of a hole there."
Once staked to his lead, Lynch didn't give up a hit until Greene doubled with two outs in the sixth. Lynch struck out Jeff Baker to strand him at second, and after a two-out single by Russell Triplett, Lynch struck out David Slevin to end the game. He won't pitch again until Florida State opens region play next week.
Clemson (45-13) moved into the losers' bracket for an elimination game at noon today against N.C. State, but the Tigers will be without Leggett. He'll be in South Carolina to attend his son's high school graduation, optimistic his team still will be alive when he returns to town tonight.