Clemson went into Raleigh with a chance to get themselves solidly back into the postseason conversation with a series win. As we've seen time and again down the stretch however, this team just doesn't have the pitching.
The losses of Spencer Strider and Carter Raffield to season ending injuries prior to the season starting have really started having an effect on this team. How many teams in college baseball can survive losing two starting pitchers?
Add in the inconsistencies of Brooks Crawford and Jacob Hennessy and the only way the Tigers were going to overcome those losses were Keyshawn Askew and Jackson Lindley both being ready to go from day one as true freshmen, and that just wasn't the case.
All is not lost however. Over 70% of the roster is made up of underclassmen. This coaching staff has been building this program with an eye towards 2020. There are a ton of young, high quality arms on the roster, with more on the way.
The Tigers postseason chances took a hit this weekend but the door isn't completely closed. With a road game Tuesday night in Conway against Coastal Carolina, a home series against Wake Forest next weekend to close the regular season, and the ACC Tournament, they still have a shot at sneaking in.
Game 1- NCST 6 Clemson 1
The Tigers got a quality start from Mat Clark but the offense was not able to get anything going against Wolfpack pitching. Clark went 6 innings while scattering 8 hits. He allowed 4 runs (3 earned) and struck out 8, while walking just 1. After a little early rust in the first two innings, he settled in nicely in getting through his final 4 innings.
Wolfpack starter Jason Parker kept the hot hitting Tiger offense off balance with 4.2 scoreless innings in which he gave up just 4 hits and struck out 3. Nick Swiney was even better over the last 4.1 innings, allowing just a solo homerun in the ninth to Chad Fairey, and striking out 6, while walking just 1.
Game 2- Clemson 4 NCST 3
Sam Hall's two out, run scoring single in the 10th broke a 3-3 tie as the Tigers were able to even up the weekend series at one game apiece.
Grayson Byrd extended his hitting streak to 13 games in the first with an RBI double to plate the games first run. Chad Fairey then added a two out RBI single to give the Tigers an early 2-0 lead.
The Pack cut it to 2-1 in the 3rd and that's how it remained until the 7th. A Michael Green steal set up an RBI single by Logan Davidson to make it 3-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, Sam Weatherly walked the first two batters, both of which would come around to score to tie it at 3, with one coming on a bases loaded wild pitch by Owen Griffith.
Davis Sharpe started and went 5 innings, allowing just 4 hits and striking out 4. He walked 2, as well as hitting his 11th batter of the season.
Carson Spiers came on and went the final 3 innings to earn the win and improve to 2-4 on the season. Spiers has seen a noticeable increase in his workload of late as the options in the pen have become more limited due to suspensions and fatigue.
Game 3- NCST 8 Clemson 3
Holt Jones got the start in the rubber match and despite having the last two weeks off due to being suspended, looked no better than he had his last few times out. Jones walked the first 3 batters he faced and was quickly yanked without even recording an out. All 3 batters would come around to score giving the Wolfpack an early 3-0 lead that the Tigers could never overcome. Is Jones just flat out gassed or is he just not cut out to start?
Jacob Hennessy came on in relief of Jones and did everything you could ask for and then some, getting the team through the first 5 innings. He scattered 7 hits and allowed just 1 run.
After coming in with the bases loaded and no out in the first, he kept the team in the game and gave them a shot at getting back in it. It just wasn't meant to be.
Outside of Michael Green's 2 run homerun in the 7th, the offense just couldn't string together any hits to score runs.
The Pack blew the game open in the 6th, plating 3 more runs off Owen Griffith, and giving NCST a 7-1 lead. Speaking of gassed, Griffith looks like he's there, no question.
The Tigers fall to 30-22, and 13-14 in ACC play. Next up is Coastal Carolina (28-21, #63 RPI) on Tuesday night in Conway at 6pm.