The up and down season continues for Monte Lee and his Clemson Tigers.
After getting out of the gate slow to start the season, the Tigers had started to get some momentum going by winning three consecutive weekend series before losing two out of three to Virginia last weekend. Then on Tuesday, they dropped a midweek contest to College of Charleston.
Clemson currently sits at 15-14 overall, 9-9 in the ACC, and will now hit the road to play a pretty good Miami team. The Hurricanes (18-11, 10-10) come in ranked as high as No. 25 in one poll and are looking to bounce back in ACC play after getting swept at Pitt last weekend.
• Friday – RHP Mack Anglin (CU) vs. RHP Alejandro Rosario (MIA)
• Saturday – LHP Keyshawn Askew (CU) vs. RHP Jordan Dubberly (MIA)
• Sunday – RHP Nick Hoffmann (CU) vs. RHP Jake Garland (MIA)
The Tigers roster is made up primarily of underclassmen and youth and inexperience have plagued the team at times throughout the season. Lee said after the 13-6 loss to CofC that he thinks there are times when his players are putting to much pressure on themselves.
“I think the first thing is we got to get out of our own way,” Lee said. “Some of our guys are just putting too much pressure on themselves to perform outside of just going out there and being aggressive and competing.”
The strength of this Clemson team is without question its pitching. While it may not be quite a strong as many thought it would be coming into the season, it has been good enough to have more wins that the Tigers currently have.
However, Lee is expecting even more from his staff. Despite the bats being better over the last few weeks, the Tigers are still struggling to get the big hits with runners on base. When the pitchers hold opponent to four runs or less Clemson is 11-4.
“Up until today’s game (CofC) you know we were 10-5 in our last 15, so we’ve been doing a lot of good things,” Lee said. “But the bottom line is, we’ve got to find a way to keep teams under five runs, under four runs, you know, because when we do that we’re pretty good. We’d lost one game, now we’ve lost two, all year, where we’ve scored six runs.”
“We got to be able to win games 4-2 every now and then, and 5-3,” Lee said. “We’ve got to be able to pitch and defend and we got to find a way to come up with those hits with runners on base. You know, we can’t rely on us always having to score a lot of runs to win a ballgame.”
The Tigers have managed to get the team batting average up to .259 on the season after hitting .300 over their past 11 games. However, getting those big hits in key situations is an area the team has to improve in.
If Clemson is going to finish out the season strong, they’ve also got to be better at doing the little things. The Tigers have been better fundamentally as of late, but Lee says there is still room for improvement.
“We got to hit with runners on base and we got to be able to pitch our way out of spots with runners on base,” Lee said. “We got to be able to get a ball on the ground and get a double play to get off the field. We got to make a hit with two strikes, got to do those things, you know. And that’s been the biggest issue with us over the course of the season.”
“Bottom line is, this game boils down to guys that can pitch with runners on base and hit with runners on base. That’s what it boils down to. Your high leverage relievers are guys that can pitch with runners on base, and your high leverage hitters are guys that can hit with runners on base.”
Clemson travels to Coral Gables to take on No. 25 Miami (Fla.) this weekend for the first time since 2016. They are scheduled to play Friday at 7pm on ACC Network, Saturday at 6 pm on ACCNX, and Sunday at noon on ACC Network.