CLEMSON — Clemson was unable to complete a sweep of No. 1 Florida State on Monday, but the Tigers did clinch a series victory with a 9-7 win in the first game of a doubleheader against the Seminoles before dropping the second game, 9-5. With the series win Clemson continues its end-of-the-regular-season surge, having won 11 of 15 games and six of its last seven series. Clemson (31-21, 16-11 ACC) has won three straight series against the Seminoles (41-11, 22-5).
“We’ve got a little grit,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. “We are playing better now.
“We can play with anyone.” Despite the hot stretch Clemson is still unlikely to host an NCAA Regional as it cannot reach 40 wins, the typical benchmark to host. But the Tigers have likely cemented a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong close to the regular season, according to various projections.
Clemson entered 24th in RPI. What Clemson did learn Monday is its hitting continues to trend upward but it needs to get ace Kevin Brady back healthy for the NCAA Tournament.
“It hurt us,” Leggett said of his lack of pitching depth. “We missed some guys.”
Brady missed his second straight series with a hamstring injury and Leggett is unsure if his ace will be ready to pitch in time for the ACC Tournament.
Leggett said Brady has just begun a throwing program.
“We are missing 13 innings a week with Brady and (Matt) Campell out.” Leggett said. “Brady is throwing now but he is not sharp and has a long way to go. Maybe ACC Tournament but we’ll have to see.”
Leggett said he will consider using freshman Daniel Gossett as a starter down the stretch. Gossett pitched four innings of shutout relief in a win over FSU on Friday. Clemson’s starting pitcher offered mixed performances Monday. The sinker-balling Kevin Pohle started the first game and was effective, allowing just one earned run over six innings. But game two starter Jonathan Meyer was overmatched allowing 10 hits and six runs, all earned, in just 21/3 innings. Meyer is typically used in relief or as a midweek starter but was pressed into the weekend starting assignments due to Brady’s injury. Clemson allowed 16 hits in its loss Monday, the third most hits allowed this season. Both starters failed to strike out a single Seminole. While the pitching was uneven, Clemson’s offense pounded out 18 hits Monday. Clemson hit around Game 1 Florida State starter Mike Compton, who entered Monday with a 9-0 record and 2.59 ERA but he lasted just 11/3 innings allowing six runs, three earned, six hits and a walk in the first game.
“Hitting makes everything better,” Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer said. “It makes that dugout atmosphere better, it makes the defense better, everyone is swinging well, everyone is feeling better. Sometimes when the whole team is not swinging well things get tense, pitchers they feel extra pressure.”