After suffering a 9-4 loss to second-seed Vanderbilt Saturday night, No. 1 seed Clemson came back Sunday night with fire and aggression to defeat the Commodores 6-0 and force a championship game in the Clemson Regional Monday at 4 p.m.
Here is what we heard.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time and I think that is the best baseball game I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes,” said Clemson head coach Monte Lee. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team play that well. When you look at the pitching performance by Tyler Jackson first and foremost, how we played defensively- I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better game defensively. Played extremely well. Made not only a lot of good plays, but great plays and we had some big time hits.
“We had two-strike hits, we had two-out hits, our guys really, really competed. I don’t know if we could’ve played a better baseball game so just really proud of our guys and now we’re in the position to play for the championship of this regional. We need to try to carry this momentum into tomorrow and see if we can find a way to get it done.”
Starting pitcher Tyler Jackson threw a gem, limiting Vanderbilt to just two hits while throwing a complete game shutout.
“I came here to help get through a regional,” said Jackson after the game. “We fell short last year and I wanted to have an impact on the team to do that so I came in and did exactly what I wanted to do coming here.”
“Believe it or not I actually wasn’t kind of nervous at all. I kind of took it as ‘this possibly could be the last game in college and possibly my career of playing baseball forever’ so I kind of took it that way of this possibly being my last game and just went out and did what I had to.”
Along with Tyler Jackson’s outstanding efforts on the mound came right fielder Weston Jackson’s performance at the plate and in the field. Jackson was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a home run while also showing his range in right field with some very athletic catches.
“It was do or die,” Jackson said. “We have a bunch of guys who are seniors who won’t be playing in this program any longer and we weren’t ready to give up. We weren’t ready for it to be done.”
“There was just a different vibe from the get go. The guys were confident. We had confidence in Tyler Jackson coming out and he did an unreal job. We haven’t played like that in a long time and it was great to get going.”
Freshman catcher Kyle Wilkie really stepped up as well and had an unbelievable day at the plate going 2-for-3 with an RBI in the Vanderbilt game and 5-for-6 on the entire day.
“It’s hard to sleep after games like this,” Wilkie said. “A lot of adrenaline running through us right now especially catching two games. I’m running on adrenaline.”
“I’m just glad I could go out there and help our team win… especially these guys that won’t be here next year. I just want to let them play as long as possible. There is a lot of guys that may not play baseball ever again. We’re just trying to keep that alive for them and like I said, I’m just out here doing it for the teammates.”
Clemson and Vanderbilt will play again at 4 p.m. Monday afternoon with the winner advancing to play Oregon State in the Super Regional round.