Owen Griffith entered Clemson’s elimination game against UNC Greensboro on Sunday with the Tigers trailing and their season on the line.
The freshman reliever didn’t crack under the pressure. Instead, he threw a career-high 4.1 innings, allowing no runs and just one hit to finish out Clemson’s come-from-behind 6-3 win over the Spartans in Game 5 of the Clemson Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
“How about the job of Owen Griffith,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “Owen saved us right there. He was unbelievable. Brought him in early in the ball game, and he pitched an outstanding ball game. He threw up zero after zero after zero.
“The story of the game, really for me, was Owen Griffith.”
Griffith shut down the Spartans, striking out five batters and walking only one en route to his first career win. Fellow freshman Logan Davidson backed him with a two-run home run in the seventh inning that gave Clemson a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Despite it being his first career appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Griffith didn’t let the big moment faze him.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Griffith said. “I knew what I had to do. I had one focus — that was to get them out, and that’s what I did.”
Griffith didn’t want to let Clemson’s seniors down, and said that mentality fueled his performance.
“My main focus was, I came out there with the thought that this is not going to be Rudy Cox’s last game, this is not going to be Alex Eubanks’ last game,” he said. “All those guys that are leaving, I just didn’t want this to be their last game at the Doug.”
The native of Aiken, S.C., and former top-ranked pitcher in South Carolina by Perfect Game now has a 1.23 ERA in his first 14.1 innings pitched as a Tiger.
“I had a little bit of shoulder trouble late in the fall, and that was a minor setback,” Griffith said, “but I felt like I worked my arm back, got all my pitches back, and I’ve been progressively better throughout the season.”