In the series opener of one of the most important ACC matchups for seventh-ranked Clemson thus far, the Tigers fell short of victory to No. 2 Louisville, 4-2, on Friday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Friday’s loss marked the Tigers fifth straight loss in ACC play. Although the Tigers had 11 hits in the game they struggled to make those hits timely, leaving 16 runners on base and 12 in scoring position.
After the game the media spoke with head coach Monte Lee, starting pitcher Charlie Barnes and first baseman Andrew Cox. Here is what we heard:
Lee began by recognizing and congratulating Louisville’s head coach, Dan McDonnell on getting his 500th career win on Friday.
“First of all I would like to congratulate Dan McDonnell,” said Lee. “I think it’s his 500th win at Louisville today. What a tremendous accomplishment in the amount of years that he has been there. He is one of the best coaches in the country. Does an unbelievable job and just wanted to make sure we recognize that.”
However, Lee then continued on about how tough and frustrating Friday’s loss was.
“It’s really, really tough to swallow, obviously today. To lose 4-2 and you just look at the ballgame; they scored early. They scored three runs between the third and the fourth innings on errors and we had a lot of opportunities today, offensively.”
When Lee was asked what the answer is to start hitting with guys on base he responded,
“Well the thing I preach and preach and preach and that we obviously have to stay in the strike zone. We have to be very aggressive. We have to swing the bats with conviction in the middle of the field and we have to try to drive the ball into the big part of the field with runners in scoring position.”
Defensively, Charlie Barnes pitched an overall solid game despite getting the loss. He is now 5-4 on the season. Barnes pitched six complete innings, gave up seven hits, and allowed four runs, only one of which was earned. Barnes held his own on the mound with Louisville’s starting pitcher, Brendan McKay, who could potentially be the first overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft.
“Playing in the ACC you see guys like that (McKay) on a regular basis,” said Barnes. “That’s why you come to Clemson. That’s why you play in the ACC. So you can face up with the best. I was just excited to get out there and compete as hard as I could and try to give my team a chance.”
Although the Tigers did not have their best night offensively, first baseman Andrew Cox did go 4-for-5 with a run scored. As one of the key leaders on the team, Cox had the mindset of using the positives of Friday’s game and take that momentum into Saturday.
“Well I thought for the back-half of the game I thought we kind of controlled things,” he said. “You look at from the fifth inning on and we won the game 2-0. So there’s a lot of positives we can take from the at-bats we had, the pitches we made, how we played on defense, our competitiveness, you know there’s a lot we can take from the second half of the game into tomorrow.”
“I don’t ever give up on my team,” Cox continued. “I don’t ever give up on myself. I don’t ever stop believing. I don’t have an answer for you, but one thing is for sure. We will be ready to do it again tomorrow and we will be ready to go.”
The second game of the three-game series will be played today at 4 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium as Clemson will look to bounce back and even the series.