If you have ever seen the Peanuts, then you have a pretty good idea of how Clemson pitcher Charlie Barnes feels tonight.
Like David Schultz’s loveable character Charlie Brown felt in the famous comic strip every time his friend Lucy pulled the football away when he went to kick it, Barnes has to have the same level of disappointment in the two games the Sumter, S.C., native has pitched against South Carolina.
Barnes pitched one of the best games of his career on Friday in Game 1 of the No. 12 Tigers’ three-game series with No. 4 South Carolina, but it still was not good enough to beat them. And like last year’s game in Columbia, it was not Barnes’ fault.
With South Carolina runners Matt Williams and T.J. Hopkins on first and third with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, Madison Stokes hit a flyball to right field, which right fielder K.J. Bryant appeared to have a beat on. However, Bryant missed played the ball as it hit the bottom of his glove and fell to the ground allowing both Williams and Hopkins to score. They turned out to be all the runs the Gamecocks needed in a 2-0 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Shortstop Logan Davidson also dropped a ball that led off the Gamecocks’ sixth.
“It is definitely frustrating,” said Barnes, who is now 0-2 against the Gamecocks. “That is just kind of how the ball bounces. They’ll pick me up later in the year. It’s frustrating to have something like that happen, but it is really not something I can control. I like to focus on what I can control. I can’t do anything about it after it happens, but I love those guys. They’re my teammates. I love those guys. We will joke about it every now and then, but there are no hard feelings.”
When he went back in the dugout after the Carolina sixth, Barnes found Bryant and asked him to shake it off because the team is going to need him the rest of the game and over the weekend.
“I told him we needed him in the game and not to let that mistake rollover into his at-bat or into the field again,” Barnes said. “I told him, ‘We are going to need you, not only tonight, but for the rest of the season. You have to keep your head up and keep doing your thing.’”
Last year in Columbia, Barnes was down 1-0 heading into the sixth inning against South Carolina when three errors in the inning did him in a 7-1 loss. The Gamecocks scored five runs in the inning. It two games against USC, Barnes has been charged with 8 runs, but five have been unearned.
But unlike last year, when the errors got to the lefty, this time he shook off the mistakes and pitched into the eighth inning.
“That is something I have really been focusing on this year, things that only I can control, my process and how I do things,” Barnes said. “I think that has been the biggest thing. When I focus on the things I can control, I don’t let outside factors get into my head or anything like that. I’m definitely proud of that. I took a step in the fall and coming into this season to really focus on that.”
The Tigers will try to even the series on Saturday when they play Carolina at Fluor Field in Greenville. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.