Same ol story. Clemson just can't do enough to win big games. We play well at times, and then completely choke in crucial situations. We need a clutch hit, and can't get it. We get a routine play, and cannot finish it. This team has some of the worst fundamentals and situational defense (despite having a pretty good fielding percentage) that I can recall. Its certainly the worst team since 2008 and another defeat to the Chickens ends their season.
Clemson actually played well in Game 1 against Coastal, jumping out to a 6-0 lead after a Phil Pohl grand slam. Pohle and Haselden both pitched well enough to get the job done in the 11-3 win that was paused for rain & lightning for 1.5 hrs. It wasn't exactly pretty, with CC getting a ton of baserunners on (16), but they got out of it with good damage control.
Saturday's game lived up to the hype in all honesty, but was marred by Clemson's inability to get a clutch hit time and time again or properly lay down a bunt. Michael Roth looked like shit, but through 6 innings we could get only 2 hits despite having runners on base nearly every inning.
In the 2nd, Pohl led off with a single and Baum walked, followed by another walk to McGibbon. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Spencer Kieboom (who has dual citizenship) grounded to Short, and McGibbon went in high to 2nd base with his arms extended. Pohl scored on the play from 3rd base, but was called back due to Interference by McGibbon at 2nd, though they got both outs on the 6-4-3 DP. This was the first of several atrocious calls by the Umpires in the series, none of whom could create a consistent strike zone.
Per the rules, interference results in a dead ball, so all baserunners have to go back to their original bases. Pohl's run was taken off the board, and Baum was called back. While I understand the rules, this should have been a no-call since they got both outs on the play normally. I've seen this kind of DP a thousand times and it never gets called for interference when they get the outs. The interference didn't factor into the force at 2nd or the throw to 1st. Felder (whose mom played at Clemson if you didnt know) flied out to end the inning and a major opportunity was blown.
In the 3rd, we got a runner to 2nd base before Shaffer grounded out. In the 5th we got 2 on with no outs, but between a popout and a couple grounders to Short, we got nothing out of it. It wasn't until the 7th that CU got to Roth, when we should've forced him from the game much earlier.
In the 8th, Jack sent in Firth, who had been solid yet couldn't record an out. He gave up 1 run before being pulled for JoMo, who got out his lefty batter. Jon Meyer came in and barely avoided a HR on a hanging slider but got out of the inning.
In the 9th, Meyer remained on the hill and promptly blew the game. At the time I wondered why Brady had not been called in. He's generally been very solid against SC and his fastball could ice it. But Meyer let two more on, walking one guy who tried to bunt on 5 pitches, before Brady came in and managed to get out of the jam with just 1 run crossing, but it was the tying score and forced extra innings. Thomas Brittle made a strong throw to the plate to limit them to the one run. Brady had not built up enough arm strength because of his rest and I was sure he couldn't go more than 3, and thats as far as he got before SC won the game in the 12th.
It spoiled a tremendous job by Daniel Gossett, whose curveball ate up Gamecock hitters all day long. It was downright nasty and you could see knees shaking in every inning. The freshman made only one really bad pitch, a middle-in elevated fastball that Matthews put over the fence in the 4th. Through 7 innings, Gossett gave up just 4 hits and struck out 8.
After the game, I hope someone asked Jack why he decided to not teach proper bunting to our hitters when he's a smallball coach, and why we pitched around a guy trying to sacrifice. I'd also like to know who teaches our hitters to not move the bat off their shoulders with runners on and 2 strikes because that shit is driving me insane.
After the staff was sufficiently taxed on Saturday, Clemson had to have a solid performance by the starter on Sunday in the first elimination game vs Coastal. Dominic Leone came back and gave us that. Leone had not been with the team this week due to a funeral in the family, but came back to pitch 7 solid innings that we badly needed with our lack of pitching depth. Jason Stolz also had a big day at the plate with 2 homers in the 5-3 win.
Leone wasn't exactly pretty early, walking the first batter who later scored on a Sac Fly to give Coastal a 1-0 lead.
In the 3rd, the Umpire screwed us again. Brittle was at 2nd and took a big lead, and the pitcher had him picked off. He tossed to the 2B, and Brittle turned back to 3rd base. The 2B threw to the 3rd baseman, standing halfway between the two bases. Brittle dodged him and was called out for running out of the baseline, while the 3rd baseman dropped the ball attempting to tag. The rules state that a runner and the fielder both have a right to the baseline, but the runner almost always attempts to dodge a tag unless its the 1st baseline. Brittle went more than 3 feet from the line, in the Umps judgement, and was called out. Its been a long time since I've seen a call like that one, and I'd have been tossed from the game if I were Jack Leggett. This was a complete bullshit call.
What Brittle should've done was flatten the 3rd baseman, which is well within the rules. He still must hold onto the ball after a collision. Clemson scored only 1 run and the game remained close until the end.
Throughout the game, Clemson made numerous bad throws and bonehead plays defensively. McGibbon missed a sure out by not having any sunglasses, Felder (whose mom played basketball at Clemson in case you didnt know yet) went braindead on two balls hit at him (but saved one run with a great cutoff throw), and a sure DP was botched by a bad throw.
Thankfully Leone didn't give up more runs than he was forced to by such poor defensive fundamentals. It could've been much worse, but this game should've been in the bag earlier. Firth pitched two strong innings to close it out and the Tigers got an insurance run in the 9th.
In tonights game, David Haselden was slated to start and fooled no one. In 2/3 of an inning he was beat up for 3 runs. Jon Meyer came in and redeemed himself with a very strong performance that gave us a chance to win the game, probably his best ever, but again Clemson can't hit junkballing lefties, especially freshmen.
Jordan Montgomery (5-1) pitched 6.2 innings to earn the win. He gave up five hits, two runs, and one walk with six strikeouts. Tyler Webb yielded two hits, one run, and no walks with four strikeouts to record his third save of the season. Montgomery and Webb combined to retire all nine of Clemson's leadoff batters in the game.
Clemson was 1-hit through 5 by the youngster. We got to him a little after that, but every chance we had to blow it up was pissed away. Only in the 9th did we seriously mount a rally, but it sputtered and died and the Chickens ended their season 4-3.
I see no need to rehash the rest of the game, the simple fact is that we could not hit the baseball.
Clemson's clutch hitting was praised by the talking heads, who are still mentioning Kieboom's citizenship and Felder's mom somewhere, but i thought it was weak until the game was in its final innings. We had chances to beat SC handily and finish this tonight and could not get the job done. Shaffer is a 1st round pick and isn't any more clutch than Parker was, but I will say he at least seems to care.
Jack still can't coach fundamentals, the glaring lack of which costs us in pressure situations, and still can't beat Tanner to save his life. One can only hope that losing all the upperclassmen off this team will fix things, but I somehow doubt it, and somehow Jack will get a raise and an extension.