‘Goose’ gets the call for Clemson

Clemson freshman Daniel Gossett will start for the Tigers today after spending most of the season as a relief pitcher. Staff/File

CLEMSON — Clemson will turn to a young, inexperienced, power-armed pitcher nicknamed “Goose” when it plays in the ACC baseball tournament today against Virginia.

Clemson coach Jack Leggett is banking on freshman Daniel Gossett (6-3, 4.86 ERA) to patch an inconsistent starting rotation. The Tigers (32-24 overall, 16-14 ACC) will face the Cavaliers (36-16-1, 18-12) at 11 a.m. at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C.

Last week in a 2-1 loss at Wake Forest, Gossett worked 71/3 innings, striking out seven batters while allowing six hits. The performance came after an impressive showing in relief the previous weekend against No. 1 Florida State when the Byrnes High product pitched four shutout innings.

Gossett, a 16th-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox last summer, has 73 strikeouts in 63 innings, the best strikeout-to-inning ratio on the team.

“(Gossett) has pitched real well for us,” Leggett said. “Virginia hasn’t seen him yet, and knowing we are playing three games, it doesn’t matter who pitches in what game. We feel good about Goose.”

Clemson is hoping the right-hander will develop into a pitching staff ace in the future.

“It just takes awhile to figure it out,” Leggett said. “He has more command, he’s more confident, his breaking ball is getting better. He’s spotting his fastball and working better ahead of the count. His arm strength has been good all along.”

No. 2 starter Dominic Leone will get the start Friday against No. 1 Florida State (43-12, 24-6) and Kevin Pohle will start Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech (32-24, 12-18). But there is a void in the rotation because ace Kevin Brady is just now coming back from a hamstring injury.

After missing three straight starts, Brady pitched an inning in relief against Wake Forest last week. He will be available in relief in the ACC tournament as he builds up arm strength to potentially start in the NCAA tournament.

The injury has opened the door for Gossett to make an impact this postseason.

Leggett said Gossett’s maturity has helped in become a factor in the postseason rotation.

“Some freshman can step right in,” Leggett said. “Carlos Rondon (9-0, 1.59 ERA) did his thing for N.C. State. There’s Brandon Leibrandt (6-2, 2.93) down at Florida State.

“Gossett is getting stronger and understanding what it takes.”

And now Gossett has a chance to be the next impact freshman in the ACC at a time when it matters most.