Linnenkohl's Walk-Off Single Sends Wake Forest to 6-5 Win Over No. 14 Clemson
April 14, 2007
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Brett Linnenkohl's one-out single in the bottom of the ninth scored Tyler Smith with the winning run to give Wake Forest a thrilling 6-5 victory over No. 14 Clemson Saturday afternoon at Hooks Stadium.
The Demon Deacons fell behind in the sixth inning after blowing a 4-1 lead. However, Wake battled back, tying it on Evan Ocheltree's home run in the bottom of the sixth and setting the stage for Smith and Linnenkohl in the ninth.
Smith led off the inning with a full-count walk against reliever Alan Farina. Smith then moved to second on a Farina balk, as the righthander turned to throw to first only to find no one there. After a failed sacrifice attempt by Austin Jones, Linnenkohl came through for the Deacons. The junior from Olympia, Wash., lined a 2-2 pitch from closer Stephen Clyne into the leftfield corner, scoring Smith easily from second.
"Honestly, I was just looking for something to drive," said Linnenkohl. "I had two strikes on me, so I knew I had to put it in play. From there on, it was pretty much a blank slate. That just shows our team we know we can get it. As long as we shut them down and keep away that big, big inning, we always have a chance. Whether downhill, uphill or flat battle we're always up for it.
"It feels good, though, because [Clemson] is a real good opponent. Our pitchers kept us in it. Anytime you're tied up in the ninth inning, you have a chance. You have to give credit to them (the pitchers)."
The walk-off victory was Wake Forest's sixth of the season. The win also was the Deacons' first against the Tigers in almost five years, snapping a 17-game losing streak to Clemson. The last time Wake Forest defeated Clemson was on April 26, 2002, in Clemson. The Deacs' last home victory against the Tigers came back in 2001.
The Demon Deacons move to 21-17 overall and 8-9 in the ACC, while the Tigers fall to 24-10 overall and 9-5 in conference play. Clemson had its six-game winning streak snapped with the loss.
Linnenkohl finished the day 3-for-5 with a run and the game-winning RBI. Since returning to the lineup on Tuesday, Linnenkohl has nine hits in his last 16 at-bats. He already has five hits in the series against Clemson.
Allan Dykstra and Ocheltree each hit solo home runs to help the Wake Forest cause on Saturday. Dykstra went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, extending his hitting streak to seven games.
Reliever Eric Niesen (4-3) earned the win with 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Niesen allowed two hits, struck out three and walked two on the day.
Wake starter Garrett Bullock got a no-decision, pitching 5 1/3 innings. For the third straight start, Bullock pitched well up until his final inning of work. He allowed just one hit through the first four innings, before giving up a run in the fifth.
However, Clemson solved Bullock in the sixth, rallying for four runs off the sophomore lefty. With the Deacons on top 4-1, the Tigers' Brad Chalk and Taylor Harbin led off with a single and double, respectively, to put runners on second and third. One out later, Bullock walked Andy D'Alessio to load the bases for Doug Hogan. Hogan responded with a two-run double to right. Bullock walked the next batter, Alex Burg, to load the bases once again.
Niesen came on in relief of Bullock and was greeted by a D.J. Mitchell double to right that scored D'Alessio and Hogan with the tying and go-ahead runs.
The Tigers' lead didn't last long, though, as Ocheltree tied the game up with the Deacons' second home run of the day. Ocheltree homered off a 1-1 pitch from Clemson starter David Kopp, putting it just inside the left field corner, over the 340 sign. The leadoff home run was Ocheltree's sixth of the season.
Dykstra's home run gave Wake Forest a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Dykstra led off the frame by hitting a 1-0 pitch from Kopp over the trees in rightfield. It was Dykstra's ACC-leading 14th homer of the season.
Clemson tied it up with its first run off Bullock the following inning. Burg and Mitchell hit back-to-back, one-out singles to put runners on first and second. Bullock appeared to be working his way out of the jam, recording a quick out and then getting two strikes on Addison Johnson. However, Johnson lined a single into right, and Burg scored just ahead of Ocheltree's throw home. Bullock ended the inning by picking Johnson off first base, giving him 10 pickoffs on the year.
The Demon Deacons re-gained the lead in their half of the fifth, scoring three runs off five-straight two-out singles. Jones and Linnenkohl each singled to put two on for Ben Terry. Terry singled through the left side to score Jones. Dykstra followed by singling in the identical spot as Terry, bringing Linnenkohl around to score. Michael Murray capped the rally with a single to center to drive in Terry and stake the Deacs to a 4-1 lead.
Wake Forest was robbed of a run in the first inning. With two outs and Terry on first, Murray lined a ball towards the leftfield line, and it appeared he would have extra bases. However, Clemson leftfielder Johnson ranged to make a diving catch to his right, snagging the ball just before it would have hit the grass.
The Deacons missed out on another scoring opportunity in the third. Smith recorded the first hit of the game, leading off with a double over the centerfielder's head. Smith was stranded at second as each of the next three Wake hitters were retired in order, the first two on strikeouts.
Kopp received a no-decision for the Tigers, pitching five innings. The righthander gave up five runs on eight hits. He struck out six and walked just one.
Farina (2-1) took the loss with 3 1/3 innings of relief. He allowed one run on one hit and struck out five Deacons.
Hogan and Mitchell each drove in two runs to lead the Clemson hitters.
The start time for Saturday's game was pushed up three hours to 11 a.m. due to the threat of inclement weather in the area. Sunday's game time, originally scheduled for 1 p.m., was also moved forward to noon.
Wake Forest and Clemson will play the rubber match on Sunday. RHP Charlie Mellies (1-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the season for Wake. LHP Ryan Hinson (2-1, 2.23) is slated to start for Clemson. First pitch is set for noon.