By Trey McCurry.
Clemson’s season ended Sunday evening at Carolina Stadium. Head coach Jack Leggett, Richie Shaffer, Phil Pohl and Jonathan Meyer spoke about the loss to South Carolina and much more.
Obviously a tough loss for us. I’m proud of our players. We played hard all day long, (starting with) the first ball game against Coastal and giving ourselves a second chance here. We just got started off on the wrong foot in the first inning and had a hard time recovering from that. Meyer came in and a pitched well for us. It was just a little bit of a microcosm of our season. We’ve had a lot of close ball games. Anything we had a little trouble with over the course of a game, whether it be picking up a runner or an error, a pitch, whatever it might be has come back to haunt us. Unfortunately it did today. I respect how our team battled and how hard they worked. These guys gave me everything they’ve got during the whole course of the day and whole course of the season. Now we’ve just got to get through this postseason depression, as I call it, these next couple of weeks and get ourselves better and back in the thick of things again next year.
On the decision to start David Haselden on the mound:
He had that senior experience, and he’s pitched well against them before. He throws strikes, so we decided to go with him. We had some tough plays. There was a really close play at the plate that I think could have gone the other way. We had a double play ball that would have gotten us out of the inning that happened to hit the kid. They swung the bats pretty well, but we could have gotten out of it with one run or none. We made the right decision to go to (Jonathan) Meyer quickly. They were just seeing the ball really well right out of the gate against Haselden and Jonathan we knew could spin some breaking balls up there and throw some strikes. He got in a pretty good rhythm once he got going. I still thought we had a chance for our offense to catch up. Their kid (Jordan Montgomery) did a pretty good job pitching against us today. He threw the ball on a downhill plane. He was using his change up for a while there, and his breaking ball and fastball had a little tail on it. They got some easy outs. They got some choppers at third for easy outs and got some quick innings. That’s why he was able to last so long. We just had a rough first inning. It’s unfortunate because the kids were ready to play. They played very hard in the first ball game, and it was a long, hot day out there. We played really well last night. One little thing goes one way or the other and we wouldn’t have to play two today. That’s the difference in the game. We’ve got to get one pitch better, one hit better, one execution better. We’ve got to go home and figure out how to do that so we can be a little more consistent during the course of the year.
On the advantage of being at home in the postseason:
It’s a huge advantage. That’s why you have to play well and consistently over the year to get yourself in that position. We were very close in two or three games over the year that would make a difference in whether we’d be playing here or at home. That’s something we have to address. We’ve got to get a little better in those areas so we can be playing at our place. It’s hard to play in front of 8,500 people and two hundred of them are Clemson people. It’s an advantage to host a regional, no question about it. South Carolina played well. They did the little things that they had to do, and they pitched well. That’s what took care of business for them. There’s an advantage to play at home, there’s no question about that.
On playing in Columbia:
Going on the road is always difficult, but especially here. It’s a hostile environment, there’s a lot of fans. They are very passionate. Sometimes it is tough, and you have work through it. Those are the types of obstacles that you need to be able to get to Omaha. I’m just proud of the way we’ve fought all week- end long and all season long. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this team.
On being down 3-0 early:
A whole nine innings worth of baseball to play. We hadn’t even stepped foot at the plate yet. It is a bit discouraging to be down 3-0 right away, but we didn’t expect anything to be easy today, for sure. We took it as a challenge, let’s see what we are made of. Can we come back and make this a game? We did a good job stopping the bleeding and limiting runs. From there on, we just tried to chip away and have good at bats and find away to close the gap. We just weren’t able to do that completely, but we gave it our best shot.
On playing two games today:
We were all pretty excited coming into the game and move onto tomorrow. I thought we played great. A lot of energy. Great job by Dom Leone, we were riding the high off that game into this game. I wouldn’t say we were tired or worn out. I would say we were excited about the opportunity we had tonight. Proud of our guys and how we battled all day long. John Meyer threw a great game. I’m proud of our team, proud of our guys.
On the season:
It’s definitely a little disappointing to end tonight. About the year and the past four years, I wouldn’t change anything. It has been the best four years of my life. I’m glad I’m a Clemson Tiger. I would go to fight with these guys any day of the week. We got in the tournament, and we had the opportunity to make it to Omaha and unfortunately we came up a little short. Looking back, I don’t have any regrets on the season. I think we played well. I think we played hard. I think we had great chemistry as a team. I love all these guys on our team, all 35 of them and the coaching staff. It’s been a lot of fun for me this year and the last four years. I have no regrets on this game or the season. I don’t think we came up short.
On what pitches worked for him today:
Early on, it was the slider away. As the game went on, my arm was loose, and I was able to locate a fastball to both the outside and the inside to righties.
On entering the game so early:
It’s always tough in front of a lot of people, down 3-0 and the crowd’s in it. I’ve done it before this season. I’ve come in early and stepped up to the plate that time, so I felt like I could do it this time.