I think we're going to be alright.
After the last two weekends I'm starting to feel like we have a very good baseball team. They hit well, the starting pitching has been good and a few guys in the bullpen seem to be pretty dependable. For the last two years, although its a recurring theme with Leggett's teams, I thought we played ball really tight. They'd make a crucial mistake in the field and pitchers didn't have much to fear from a lineup that was pressing themselves so hard that they really could never get anything going to help the Top-5 pitching staff. Tension is a hitter's worst enemy, and then it would make them try to swing harder, which is what you dont want to do.
Last year I believe the youth of the squad was a big factor with that tightness, although I know many people believe it is because of Leggett's small ball philosophies. This year he is certainly letting them swing away more often, and its paid off so far. While we aren't tearing up the league in batting average like NC State and FSU were coming into this weekend, we are hitting more home runs and not having serious difficulties at the plate at any position besides Catcher John Nester (.107) and 3B Jason Stolz (.226), though both contributed this weekend.
Even Wilson Boyd, who had had a few struggles coming into this weekend which I remarked last week, seems to have turned it around. Turns out he made a change to his stance, lowering back into his crouch and giving him back some power. He used it against NCSU to win the 2nd game of the doubleheader Saturday. He raised his BA to .271 over the weekend.
Still though, I worry about our weak defense on the left side of the infield. Brad Miller wasn't a problem this weekend, but Stolz made 3 errors at 3B. He doesnt charge the ball and it eats him up. 6 runs allowed this weekend were unearned due to various errors.
Another puzzler to me is the lack of innings by the starting pitchers. Usually when you go out there the first two times, youre on pitch counts in the 75-85 range, and then it steps upwards. I'm not an advocate of a Ray Tanner 130-pitch philosophy, but Leggett takes them out at 5-6IP...even Harman....without letting them work through a rough inning later when you tend to go to your 2nd and 3rd pitches more often. They aren't getting to 100 pitches, and our control hasn't been an issue. I don't think a pitcher can grow unless he works through more adversity, and we aren't letting them get that experience.
Pulling Weismann after 6 today I agree with however.
Now to the Series results:
Game 1 Friday got rained out and moved to Saturday, and the Tigers scored 10 runs in the first 4 innings and held on to beat NC State 12-7 when the bullpen and defense got shaky at the end.
Parker led Clemson's 13-hit attack by going 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs, and four runs. Shaffer went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, while Miller went 2-for-4 with a grand slam and a career-high five RBIs.
Casey Harman (3-0, 2,49) earned the win, as he allowed five hits, two runs, and two walks with three strikeouts in 6.0 innings pitched. Wolfpack starter Cory Mazzoni (2-1) suffered the loss, as he yielded seven hits, 10 runs (eight earned), and three walks with four strikeouts in 3.1 innings pitched.
Game 2 was more of a struggle, with the Tigers trailing into the 8th before we exploded with a 7-run inning and beat NC State 12-6.
The Wolfpack maintained small leads late in the game, including a 6-5 lead entering the eighth inning after Jack yanked Will Lamb too early (4IP, 3H, 2 R) due to some control issues, but left Tomas Cruz in too long (2IP, 7 H, 4R) when he was clearly struggling. But then the Tigers scored seven runs in the eighth, keyed by Boyd's go-ahead, two-run single with one out and John Hinson's three-run double with two outs.
The Tigers took advantage of 11 walks issued by N.C. State pitchers, including one in the eighth inning with the bases loaded that tied the score. Tiger freshman righthander Dominic Leone (1-0) earned his first career win. In the final 3.0 innings pitched out of the bullpen, he gave up just two hits, no runs, and no walks with six strikeouts. N.C. State reliever Anthony Tzamtzis (1-1) suffered the loss, as he yielded three runs on one hit and two walks in 0.1 innings pitched.
The Tigers, who totaled 10 hits in the game, were led at the plate by Boyd. The fifth-year senior was 2-for-5 with a homer, four RBIs, and two runs. Schaus went 2-for-4 with a homer, double, three RBIs, and two runs, while Hinson came off the bench to go 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Game 3 was another dogfight, with CU trading the lead back and forth with the Woofers. Every time they jumped ahead, Clemson would answer. Finally in the 8th, Clemson capitalized on 3 walks, 2 with the bases loaded and 2 out, to plate the go ahead run and won it 7-6.
Weismann was strong until a shaky 5th and then 6th, giving up 4 hits and 3 earned runs while walking 3 and striking out 5. He left with the game tied at 4, but Clemson answered Drew Poulk's solo shot with an RBI single by Chris Epps to make it 5-4 CU. However Alex Frederick was shaky and turned it right back over to State to make it 6-5.
In the 8th, one of State's best relievers, Grant Sasser, gave up a hit to Hinson and then managed to load the bases. He walked Schaus (.373-4-23) with the bases drunk, then Russell Wilson came in to face Kyle Parker (.396-6-16).
Parker beat him again, working a walk on 5 pitches, plating the go-ahead run. Jonathan Meyer was solid again at the end to get the W. He's quickly becoming Jack's go-to Closer, as a freshman.
Clemson, who outhit N.C. State 9-6, was led at the plate by Hinson. For the second game in a row, he came off the bench and registered two hits, including a key single in the eighth inning that started Clemson's rally raising his average to .407. Hinson will threaten Stolz for more PT if Stolz's average remains down. Schaus added a game-high three RBIs as well.
Clemson will play at Charlotte on Tuesday at 6:00 PM.