What an odd baseball season. For so much of the season the pitching carried this team while the offense struggled at times. This team has had issues getting the timely hits and at times, scoring runs period when the ball wasn't going out of the park.
This weekend in Atlanta was quite the opposite. The offense hit the ball and scored some runs but it was the pitching that had its share of struggles. Starting pitchers and relievers. Nine walks issued Friday, seven more on Saturday. Outside of all the walks, the Tigers might have actually outplayed the Jackets in those two losses.
When Brooks Crawford walked the first two Tech batters of the game on Sunday, only to surrender a 3R homerun one out later, it looked like we might be in for more of the same. And for three innings, it was more of the same, until Travis Marr entered to start the 4th with the Tigers trailing 7-4.
It was easily Marr’s best outing of the season, as he went on to throw 4.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing the Tigers to crawl their way back into the game, then come back and win it. If this team is able to turn things around and finish up the season on a positive note, this win and Marr’s performance must be the starting point.
Game 1- Ga Tech 8 Clemson 7
Davis Sharpe was only able to get through four innings, allowing just three hits but uncharacteristically walked four batters, helping Georgia Tech push across five runs against the freshman.
After being pretty dominant over the first half of the season, Sharpe has started to show signs of that "freshman fatigue" that's not uncommon for freshman hurlers in starting roles.
The bullpen wasn't much better, with Luke Sommerfield being roughed up for 3 runs on 3 hits in just an inning of work, and Justin Wrobleski coming in and walking all three batters he faced, including walking in a run in the 7th.
In total, Tiger pitchers issued nine free passes in this one and they would be the difference, as Tech was only able to muster 7 hits in the game.
Game 2- Ga Tech 13 Clemson 8
Mat Clark was back on the mound after missing last weekend, but was not able to get out of the 5th, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits in 4.2 IP. He did strike out 4 but walked 2 as well.
Holt Jones, one of Clemson's more reliable relievers the first half of the season, would come on in relief of Clark. The hard throwing sophomore couldn't record an out however, as he gave up a single, then walked the next 3 batters.
Monte Lee would then be faced with having to go with his closer, choosing to bring in Carson Spiers, up 3 runs in the 5th. No coach wants to have to go with their closer that early for obvious reasons, and as one would imagine, it did not turn out well. In his second inning of work, Spiers would be tagged for 7 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, as Georgia Tech broke this back and forth affair wide open. Just like that, an 8-6 lead was turned into a 12-8 deficit, and the Tigers were done.
Tech would add one more in the 8th off of Owen Griffith for the 13-8 final.
Game 3- Clemson 11 Ga Tech 7
The finale turned out to be the craziest of all three games. After going up 1-0 in the 1st, Ga Tech would score 5 times in the bottom half of the inning for a 5-1 lead. With Brooks Crawford not making it out of the 1st, and the bullpen pretty much burned up and looking so unreliable of late, it felt like this was a game that could possibly get ugly.
After 3, Tech had scored 7 runs off of Crawford and Jacob Hennessy. Both pitchers had already given up back to back homeruns, and this team was in dire need of someone in the bullpen stepping up and giving the team some innings, but also being able to slow the hot bats of Ga Tech down.
Enter Travis Marr. Just recently back from injury, the redshirt sophomore went the next 4.1 innings, not allowing a run, and giving up just 3 hits while striking out 2. He only walked one, although he did hit the first two batters of the 5th to get the craziness started.
After hitting Kyle McCann in the back, he then hit Tristin English in the wrist. With English also serving as the Yellow Jackets closer, being hit on his pitching hand not only upset English, it had head coach Danny Hall and the rest of the Yellow Jacket dugout all up in their feelings.
Hall was actually irate to the point it was looking like he might get tossed, but he didn’t. Not then anyways. Why they thought Marr would want to hit the first two batters of the inning intentionally with his team already down four runs is a little mind boggling to begin with, but it was pretty evident by his body language after the second one that it was not intentional. After everyone was calmed down, both teams were given warnings, which would come into play later.
After cutting the lead to 7-4 on an RBI double by Grayson Byrd in the 7th, the Tigers would go on to push 7 more runs across in the 8th, and turn a 3 run deficit into a 4 run lead at 11-7. They did it on a 2R homer by Justin Hawkins, a 3R shot by Grayson Byrd, and RBI single from Bryar Hawkins.
With 2 on and 1 out in the 8th, Sam Weatherly was brought on to relieve Marr. After getting the first out on a fly out to left, Weatherly would strike out the next batter swinging, giving an emphatic fist pump after having gotten out of the jam. He was immediately tossed. He supposedly was staring down the batter as well, but all that was shown was the fist pump.
With 2 outs in the top of the ninth, Tech pitcher Keyton Gibson hit Bryce Teodosio with a pitch, and he was immediately ejected as well, along with Yellow Jackets head coach Danny Hall.
With Weatherly out, Monte Lee had to turn to Holt Jones, who hasn’t been very reliable of late. It would not matter, because Jones’ first pitch was way inside and was ruled to have hit the Ga Tech batter, and Jones was then immediately ejected, along with Monte Lee. Replays call into question whether the ball actually did hit the batter, but as far inside as that pitch was, it likely did not matter. Jones was visibly upset with having been tossed so it is hard to think it was intentional. Add in the fact that his command hasn’t been very good of late and how badly this team needed a win, and it is even easier to believe it was not intentional.
Carson Spiers would then come on to get a fly ball out, then got the next two outs on a strike em out, throw em out to end it.
That win was one this Clemson team needed badly. Losing on Sunday meant a ten game losing streak in ACC play, which would have been the longest in program history. Plus, this team just needed to have something break in their favor after having lost games in so many different ways over the past couple of weeks or so. One common theme across social media of late is that this team had quit. Of all the things that had been going wrong of late that was one thing I hadn’t seen any evidence of. The effort always seems to be there. Hopefully, this team can build off this win and finish up the season on a good note.
Clemson now sits at 27-18 on the season, 12-12 in ACC play, and they currently sit at #38 in RPI. They will have a full week to get themselves recharged, as there is no midweek game this week. The Tigers do not play again until next weekend when they take a break from ACC play, with a home and home two game series with Gardner Webb.