When Chris Williams ripped a double down the left field line to score Clemson’s first run in the bottom of the fifth inning on Friday night, no one was happier in the Tigers’ dugout than Charlie Barnes.
“I was definitely excited,” the junior said following the ninth-ranked Tigers’ 4-1 victory over Notre Dame at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. “I was excited to see some runs cross the plate. I was definitely the happiest person in the dugout.”
Williams’ RBI double in the fifth inning was the first run the Tigers scored while Barnes was on the mound in 20 innings, dating back to the season opener against Wright State on Feb. 17. During that same span Barnes has allowed just two earned runs and currently has a 0.69 ERA.
“We have one of the best pitching staffs in the country and he is pitching on Friday nights for us,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “Our expectations for him are to be a Friday night starter and go out there and shut an offense down, and that is exactly what he has been doing.
“I’m very proud of him. He was really, really good for us tonight.”
Barnes (1-1) is no stranger to pitching well against the Irish. Last year, he held them to one run in eight innings of work in South Bend, Ind., while striking out seven batters and walking none. He did not get the win that night, though the Tigers scratched out a run in the 11th for a 2-1 victory, his eight innings matched his career high while giving him the confidence he carried into the off-season, and now through his first four starts of this season.
“I had some struggles earlier in the season last year especially when we hit ACC play, but that game let me know that I can do it. It boosted my confidence a ton,” Barnes said. “Ever since then, I have been really confident and as you know that is the hardest part, just believing in yourself. Once you do that, you will start seeing the results you want.”
Barnes’ results on Friday saw the lefty pitch into the seventh inning, allowing just one run on four hits to earn his first win of the season. For a second week in a row, he was not charged with an earned run and it was the third straight week he has not allowed an earned run. He has gone 21 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
“One of the biggest goals for me this season, I just did not want to go five or six innings, I wanted to go seven and eight,” Barnes said. (The breaking ball) has been huge for me. Having a fourth pitch has not only helped me get an out in the game, but it gives me something new to show a hitter as we get in the sixth, seventh or eighth innings.
“It helps me get those outs early in the count or those strikeouts when I need it.”
Now Barnes just needs a few more hits and runs from his teammates, but he is not worried, he knows they are coming.
“I try not to focus too much on what the offense is doing because I know at some point this season they are going to bail me out of a start where I may give up four or five runs,” Barnes said. “So I just kind of focus on what I can focus on, but I was definitely excited to see some runs cross.”