The series ended 2-1 as I expected, but there is a lot of positive to build off of. We played pretty damn good in spots, both on the mound and at the plate, and I didn't expect us to look as good as we did against Virginia. Granted, UVA is not quite as good as they have been, and they still own Jack, but at least I'd say we're starting to close that gap. I haven't been able to walk away from this series and say that for quite awhile.
Friday - UVA 6, Clemson 5 in 11 innings.
Clemson's bullpen choked it away after Daniel Gossett had them beaten, and the guys took care of a Lefty starter who I expected would shut us down completely.
Gossett went 7, allowing 5 hits and 2 runs, while walking none and striking out 6 Hoos. His curve was working well and tearing Boulware up as usual, evidenced by his 5th wild pitch of the season. Virginia just couldn't get much going against him.
I did want to point out how Virginia plays ABC baseball, and the 4th inning of this game against Goose is a microcosm of how they play and beat people with good at-bats and fundamentals. To lead off the 4th, Fisher doubled down the LF line. The very next batter grounded out to 2nd, behind the runner, allowing him to advance to 3rd. McCarthy hit one deep for a sac fly to score the runner. Now they hadn't been able to generate anything against Goose before that, and when 1 run makes a difference, fundamental A-B-C baseball can separate great teams from good ones.
Goose was pulled after 7 complete, turning it over to Closer Matt Campbell, who struggled a bit in the 8th but made it out without allowing a score. In the 9th, he couldn't get anyone out, leaving with runners on 1st and 3rd. Kyle Schnell, who has been very consistent lately, came in to finish it with us up 5-2.
Schnell couldn't get anyone out either. He wasn't getting ahead, though he did work a K against the first batter he faced. A stolen base moved runners to 2nd and 3rd, and the next batter grounded out to short, but the run scored. Now is when you can call out Jack for leaving the right-handed submariner in against LH batters. Generally you never want to leave a sidearmer in to pitch opposite, the opposite sided batter gets a very long look at the ball. I would not have taken Schnell out here: there were 2 outs and he has been our most consistent guy. Unfortunately the next guy doubled, driving in the 2nd run to make it 5-4. O'Connor pinch hit another lefty, who singled to tie it up.
Clemson subbed in just about everyone else from the pen over the next 3 innings, but had Jack called in a lefty against a pinch hitter, who knows what would've happened (so long as it wasn't JoMo).
Thats the story of this game. Virginia starter Brandon Waddell wasn't fooling anyone from the start, allowing 8 hits and 5 runs over 6 1/3, but we got nothing against their pen and they killed ours.
Shane Kennedy ended up with 3 RBIs, and McGibbon and Wilkerson ended up 2-for-5 on the night.
Saturday - Clemson 7, UVA 6.
Clemson broke the 9-game UVA win streak over us with a walkoff single in the bottom of the 9th from Garrett Boulware, leading to a pile up on the infield. However, Clemson again had a lead early on and blew it.
UVA scored quickly with 2 in the 1st, but their starter Scott Silverstein was beaten up by Tiger batters and allowed 3 in the 1st and 6 overall through the 4th inning. With Clemson up 6-3, Schmidt couldn't get anyone out in the 5th and UVA made it 6-5 after a sac fly off Zack Erwin. Clate just wasn't fooling anyone and couldn't seem to get the ball down for strikes, walking 3 batters in 4+ innings.
I thought Erwin pitched very well in long relief. He went the remaining 5, and after allowing the sac fly RBI in the 5th, he was almost untouchable. He allowed just 1 hit and walked 1 batter for the rest of the game, but another Clemson error by Wilkerson ended up contributing to the tying run scoring in the 8th.
After knocking out Silverstein, we couldn't generate anything against their pen until the 9th. Nothing at all. In the 9th, Thomas Brittle led off with a single up the middle, and got to 2nd on a bunt by Slaton. Virginia intentionally walked Baum to set the DP up, and Duggar struck out without moving the bat off his damn shoulders -- which he did again in the Sunday game with runners on base. Steve Wilkerson reached on an IF single to load the bases. After a pitching change, Boulware got one through to win the game.
Duggar, batting 2nd, finished 2-for-4, Wilkerson 2-for-5, and Boulware 3-for-5 with 4 RBIs. Kennedy, batting 5th, also went 2-for-4 and Brittle went 2-for-4.
Sunday - UVA 8, Clemson 5
Virginia jumped up with 5 runs in the first two innings, and despite a good comeback attempt, Clemson couldn't recover from the hole they dug themselves.
Scott Firth (L, 2-3) had been let down by his defense in his other losses, but imploded today. He was shelled early on and everything went through. Jack left him in just to get some innings out of him. He gave up 2 in the first and 3 in the second, along with another run in the 5th.
After that we were in catch up mode and chipped away at the lead against the UVA pen, after knocking out starter Nick Howard with 2 runs in the 6th. The only problem was that we put in Meyer, who either sucks or is OK, and today he sucked. He made it through the first couple of innings alright, but in the 8th he gave up a leadoff triple (misplayed in RF) and an RBI single before being pulled for JoMo, who did his usual worst, and Andrews ended up giving up the 8th run.
The Tigers did alright against the UVa pen for once in the series. We knocked out Howard after the 6th, then scored against Rosenberger and Young and Crockett in following innings. With the tying runs on base in the 8th, RF Steven Duggar struck out on a pitch middle/in, without budging the bat off his shoulders.
Steve Wilkerson went 3-for-5 and Tyler Slaton went 3-for-4 to lead the hitting. Clemson had 14 hits on the day, leaving 9 runners on base.
Clemson will host Morehead State in a two-game, midweek series starting Tuesday at 6:30 PM. We will host Duke next weekend.