GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Clemson Tigers still hope the ACC baseball tournament can serve as a springboard to a successful June, but they won't be getting a particularly forceful running start from it.
The Tigers were eliminated from championship contention Friday when they fell to Virginia Tech, 9-8, on Sean Ryan's RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.
Clemson (37-21) still has to play Georgia Tech today in a game with no immediate significance. At 0-2 in the ACC tournament, the Tigers will be headed home afterward.
"Last year, we were in a similar situation at 0-2, and there was a crazy 11-inning game," said shortstop Brad Miller, who homered Friday. "We carried it into the (NCAA) tournament and made a run. Now we have to finish strong."
Miller referred to a 4-3 win over North Carolina in the third conference tournament game. From there,
the Tigers earned the home field in the NCAA regionals, which they won to make amends for a substandard 2008 campaign.
The circumstance repeats itself after a back-and-forth game with the Hokies, who had never won an ACC tournament game until Thursday night. The Hokies claimed the 9-8 lead when Ryan slapped one into center and Andrew Rash dashed home from third. Rash deftly avoided the attempted tag from catcher Phil Pohl.
The Tigers threatened in the ninth against All-ACC reliever Ben Rowen, a sidearming right-hander who nearly drags his knuckles on the mound in delivering the ball. With two out and the tie run on second, Kyle Parker hit a one-hopper that first baseman Ronnie Shaban snagged and took for the unassisted putout.
"Ronnie did a great job," Rowen said. "I watched it, which I shouldn't. And he picked me up."
Tech (38-19) jumped on Clemson starter Scott Weismann for a five-run first, but the Tigers regrouped and claimed a 6-5 lead with a four-run fourth aided by two wild pitches and three Hokie errors.
"It's frustrating that we started so poorly," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "That made it very difficult on us. If we had been ready in the first inning, we wouldn't be talking about the end of the game."
The Tigers drew even again in the eighth on pinch-hitter Chris Epps' infield grounder, but they couldn't reclaim the lead.
Leggett declined to name a starting pitcher or a strategy for today's game, the starting time of which remained uncertain late Friday.
The Georgia Tech-N.C. State game was postponed until 10 a.m. today by rain, and that will push back every other contest. The Tigers are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
E--Hinson, Johnson, Seaborn, Smalling, Zimmerman 2. DP--Clemson 1. LOB--Clemson 5, VT 5. 2B--Schaffer 2, Domecus, Shaban, Rash. HR--Schaus, Miller, Sosnoskie, Rash. SH--Ryan, Shaban.