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Tigers excited to start Schmidt

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By Will Vandervort.

By Will Vandervort

Clemson pitching coach Dan Pepicelli was pleased with what he saw from starters Daniel Gossett and Scott Firth in the Tigers’ season-opening weekend series over William & Mary. The two combined to pitch 13.2 innings, while giving up only one run off six hits as Clemson won Game 1 under  Gossett, 2-0, and then Game 3 with Firth, 12-2.

“They worked ahead,” Pepicelli said before practice Thursday. “Really, the formula that worked so well on Friday and Sunday is what was absent on Saturday. Philosophically, we are trying to move that count in our favor and be aggressive in the zone.

“I thought Scotty and (Gossett) did a tremendous job of that. They kind of got the flow of the game going so we could do things.”

Though it came in last Saturday’s loss, Pepicelli liked what he saw from freshman Clate Schmidt, as well. Though the righty pitched only 2.2 innings, Schmidt showed command of his pitches and his body language displayed that.

His confidence was so high it was the deciding factor in why Pepicelli and head coach Jack Leggett decided to give Schmidt the start in Game 2 of this weekend’s series against Wright State.

“I’m excited about that,” Pepicelli said. “A lot of it was based on some of the savvy and energy he had on Saturday when he came out. That stuff has been coming on for the last couple of months. He really put his foot down and made a move.

“We feel good about it. He has a three-pitch mix, is aggressive and I like his stuff. His stuff is good. I just want to see what he gives us.”

Last week, Schmidt gave the Tigers (2-1) nearly three innings of work, where he allowed no runs and only three hits. He also struck out three batters and issued no walks.

“We just want him to continue to be aggressive and confident, and go out and throw his stuff” Leggett said. “He has pretty good stuff. He has a good slider and a good fastball. He is confident right now and has been pitching well.

“I just want him to go out there and relax, and take the bullpen he had the other day to the game. If he can just do that then he has a chance to be successful.”

Pepicelli says Schmidt’s confidence in himself reminds him a lot of Gossett last year, and getting him to pitch in situations like last week, and now start this Saturday’s game, will only help him and the team overall as the season moves along.

“His competitive energy when he went out there reminded me a little bit of Goose,” Pepicelli said. “That’s what made me invest so much in Goose last year. I saw that same competitive energy in Goose so we will see what (Schmidt) does with this opportunity and how he responds.

“I want to see how he carries himself. I know what his stuff is. I don’t expect perfection, but I know that stuff is pretty good stuff. He has a hard slider, change-up and a good fastball. I think if he emotionally can handle it, then he can be a Clemson guy.

“I’m excited.”

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