Mistakes. We lost this series because of mistakes and our continued inability to touch a LHP. I hate to be down on players so young, and some of them are going to be great, but this is not something new for Clemson baseball...this crap has been going on for years.
Clemson made errors in key spots in both games 1 and 3, and SC plated multiple runs after each one of them. Tanner and Holbrook put in that killer instinct that Jack Leggett has not been able to duplicate in 6-7 seasons now. Some people really hate their players for acting like douches, but the truth is that they play the game the way it should be played and they make you pay when you screw up. We stay tight, like our manager, and screw up.
And if LeCroy can't teach them how to work counts and hit lefties he's not much of a better coach than Riginos was, only a recruiter.
Friday - SC 6 Clemson 0
The story of this one was Clemson's terrible performances at the plate. From top to bottom I saw AB after AB of no one working counts, swinging at the first pitch that came close, swinging at pitches that were nowhere close, and the continued inability of Clemson hitters to handle a junkballer lefty. Jordan Montgomery 3-hit CU in 8 innings and struck out 9 without hardly ever putting anything in the zone over the plate, then Tyler Webb came in for the 9th and struck out the side.
Montgomery mixed his pitches and locations really well against us, even if he was throwing junk we couldn't lay off. His strategy was simple, work righties on the outer half with the fastball, then come in hard with the curve at their ankles or the slider as a change of pace off that, then just throw high fastballs above their belt as fat gopher pitches that none of our guys could even touch. We kept swinging and missing them and when we did hit it, it was popped up. The lefties against him couldn't handle the hard stuff he got inside with.
It looked like a typical Clemson performance against Roth.
Daniel Gossett pitched really well to oppose him over the first 6 innings, and deserved better. With SC up 1-0 in the 7th, Gossett got Greiner to ground to SS for the first out. Then Shane Kennedy, in his first start in LF, dropped a fly ball off Costen's bat. It bounced right off his glove, and no he didn't have two hands together to catch it. Costen advanced to 2nd on the error but should've been the 2nd out. Gossett then walked the next two batters before being pulled for JoMo to pitch to a couple lefties, at which point I knew we were hosed.
JoMo walked in Costen to make it 2-0. Your job is to throw strikes with them loaded, make the man hit the damn ball. 7 out of 10 batted balls are still outs. The next batter lined to relatively shallow CF, but Brittle's throw was cut off to the plate and it went to 3-0. LB Dantzler was up next and singled to score Saiko before Clay Bates, the submariner who should excel at getting ground balls that would've been nice with the bases loaded, got called in for the 3rd out - a ground out to 3rd.
At this point it was 4-0 and Clemson's hitters appeared to have tightened up in usual Jack fashion, and swung at even more junk for the rest of the game.
Saturday - Clemson 6 SC 3
I didn't think Schmidt was quite ready for this kind of game as a true frosh but he proved us wrong in this one. Aside from two pitches he dominated the cluckers to register his 2nd W of the season. Over 7 innings, he allowed 5 hits and 2 runs, back to back HRs, walked 3 and struck out 5. Although the vantage point from the TV camera sucked, he did appear to be painting the inside and outside corners of the plate with his fastball and I'm fairly surprised he didn't end up with another 5 Ks in the game.
What I liked even more was that he was calling the shots on the mound and barking orders to the infield. He works lightning fast as well - as soon the ball is back to him he's set and ready for the sign. Usually you don't see that stuff from a freshman. He also appeared completely unfazed by the HRs and went right back at the SC hitters.
Both HRs were on middle-outer half fat fastballs just below the belt, and both went over the RF-R/CF wall.
Clemson handled Colby Holmes, fresh off a combined no-hitter, and allowing just .077 average against so far, very well. All of our real damage on the scoreboard was against Holmes. Adam Westmoreland pitched the best I can recall seeing from him in relief and shut Clemson down thereafter.
Clemson was up 2-0 in the 5th before opening it up on Holmes. With 1 out, Krieger and Brittle singled to have runners on the corners, then with two outs, Steve Wilkerson slapped a single through the left side to score Krieger. Shane Kennedy then walked to load em up, and Steven Duggar singled up the middle to score two more.
Matt Campbell was a little shaky in the 8th when called upon for the 2-inning save, but struck out 2 in the 9th looking to register his 3rd save.
Sunday -SC 8 Clemson 0
Nolan Belcher dominated the same way Montgomery did, throwing a 3-hit CG shutout. But in this one I have to give him the majority of the credit, he worked both sides of the plate extremely well and changed speeds even better. He threw 118 pitches and faced only 5 batters over the minimum. All 3 hits allowed were singles. Basically the senior made the Clemson lineup look like JV hitters.
Not that it would've mattered since we didn't score, but Clemson's defense dropped the ball and gave up 5 unearned runs to kill Scott Firth. In the 5th with 1 out, Steve Wilkerson dropped a line ball right at him, allowing a runner to reach and another to reach second. After Shrock struck out for out #2, the Gamecocks capitalized with 5 2-out hits. If he catches that ball, the inning would've been over. SC got another insurance run in the 8th when Jackson Campana walked em loaded and then walked in a run.
Clemson allowed 5 UER on Friday night as well, and defensive gaffes in the OF could've led to more disasters on Saturday.
But now we know what kind of team this is going to have to be to win. I think we're going to get a lot better by the end of the season, but my concerns over the lineup were confirmed at this point in the season. We cannot hit, period. We're going to have to win with pitching and defense. If we don't shut the other team's lineup down, we're going to lose a lot of games.
On the bright side, I do think that with Pohle coming back, this is the most talented pitching staff we've had here since Kevin O left Clemson for Florida. I could see several of them being highly drafted, and maybe more than one 1st round draft pick in the bunch. If you like to see good pitching as I do, you should make sure to see this group of Clemson pitchers at least once this year.
Clemson will face Wofford on Wednesday at 4pm before heading to Raleigh to face the pitwolfies, beginning ACC play.