CLEMSON, S.C. — When Khalil Greene hit 27 home runs to set a Clemson single-season record in 2002, it was a mark no one thought would be broken.
Some have come close over the last 20 years.
In 2005, Kris Harvey hit 25 home runs. In 2006, Andy D’ Alessio smacked 23. In 2010, Kyle Parker flew 20 out of the ballpark, while in 2018, Seth Beer jacked 22 bombers.
And as great as all of those players were at Clemson, none of them did what Max Wagner is doing this season. The Tigers’ third baseman has hit 26 home runs, which leads the ACC and ranks second nationally.
That is right. Twenty-six home runs.
Wagner took over sole possession of second place on the Tigers’ single-season home run list during Clemson’s 6-2 victory over Boston College Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. He did it with a bomb to left centerfield, a three-run shot in the seventh inning to put the game away.
With one game left in the regular season—today (11 a.m.) against BC—the redshirt sophomore is just one home run from tying Greene’s record.
“It is hard to imagine in the BB core era that you would have a guy that could potentially, and we don’t know for sure, that would be even this close to a Khalil Greene,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “Khalil Greene is arguably one of the best college baseball players to ever play and had one of the best seasons in the history of college baseball in 2002. He just put up insane numbers. He was a first-round pick and a Big Leaguer.
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“So, to think he is anywhere close to that in a single season is pretty impressive.”
And though Wagner is in rarefied air, it should be noted no one in Clemson history has been quicker to 26 homes runs. Not even Greene.
Wagner has 26 home runs in 55 games. Greene played in 71 games back in 2002, and so did Michael Johnson, who is tied with Jeff Baker and Harvey for third place on the home run list. Baker needed 68 games to hit 25 home runs, while Harvey hit his 25 in 65 games.
In case you are wondering, Beer needed 63 games to smash his 22 homers, while D’ Alessio needed 69 games to hit 23 home runs.
“It’s just the hard work I have been able to put in, pretty much ever since I got here my freshman year,” Wagner said. “All the experience I was able to take my freshman year has really helped me get to this point.
“Again, I am still working and still trying to get better and trying to get this team in the right direction.”
For Wagner, who has heard all the stories about how great Greene, Baker and Johnson were during their 2002 run to the College World Series, he never imagined he would be on such an exclusive list when he came to Clemson.
“I just try to play. I just try to compete,” Wagner said. “Every game right now is a playoff game. What has happened in the last 55 or so games is over. I just care about what is going to happen tomorrow.”
And by this time tomorrow, he could be Clemson’s new single-season home run leader.