Monte Lee’s goal this week in the Clemson Regional is to not get punched in the face … figuratively that is.
Prior to Tuesday’s practice as the top-seeded Tigers get set to play No. 4 UNC Greensboro on Friday in Game 2 of the Clemson Regional, Lee expressed using Pat Krall out of the bullpen will not be out of the question, neither will anything when it comes to winning that first game and getting in the winner’s bracket round of the regional.
“That is how you have to approach the postseason,” the Clemson coach said. “You start looking ahead and start saying ‘let’s set this thing up for three games’ and we if do this, then we can do this in Game 2 and Game 3, then the next thing you do is you get punched in the face in Game 1 and you are really going to regret thinking that way.
“We don’t really try to map it any other way. Let’s do everything we can to maximize the roster that we have and the players we have to win the first game.”
Lee did not say who will start against UNC Greensboro, but he did not rule out using his ace Charlie Barnes. Most consider Clemson to save Barnes for the second game in case they play Vanderbilt and its ace Kyle Wright.
“I’ll do whatever coach tells me to do,” Barnes said. “I would love to go against those guys, but if coach wants me throw against UNCG, then I’ll be happy to do that as well. I will do whatever I can to help us advance.”
So will Lee, which is why he and the coaching will not make a decision on which one they will start against UNCG until after practice on Wednesday. They could also start Alex Eubanks on Friday or they could consider Jackson as well, who has been the Tigers’ mid-week starter all year.
“We are trying to watch everybody on video and trying to study all the stats that we can,” Lee said. “Look at the tendencies, look at each team, look at UNCG and see who is hot in their lineup and what they are doing versus lefties and again trying to study each opponent to the best of our abilities before we make a decision as to who we are going to start in Game 1.”
Clemson (39-19) is going to approach Friday’s game as if it is a one-game playoff and will do everything they can to win the game. To the Tigers, that’s the best approach in trying to avoid the loser’s bracket where pitching depth can become an issue.
“Again, you have to try to do everything you can to win that game because when you get into the loser’s bracket into the postseason, it is really going to stretch and push your pitching depth,” Lee said. “It is very difficult to win if you drop a game.
“We are treating every single game like it is a single-game (elimination) and this is the only game that matters. That means if we are going to use Pat out of the pen or we have to use Tyler Jackson out of the pen to help us win that game and one of those last nine outs, then that is what we are going to do. We are going to do everything we can to win Game 1. That is all that matters to us right now.”
That, and avoid getting punched in the face.