By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Clemson head coach Jack Leggett is taking his two wins against Eastern Michigan this past weekend and is savoring them.
The Tigers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday for a 9-7 victory in a series in which all three games were decided by a combined five runs. If it would not have been for an errant throw by Eastern Michigan shortstop John Rubino with two outs in that decisive eighth inning, Clemson might have lost the series.
“I like their team. They are very scrappy and they kept coming at us,” Leggett said. “They are tough on two strikes and they made it tough on our pitchers. We learned some lessons this weekend. We have to get a little bit better in certain areas.”
But more importantly the Tigers, who played four freshmen on Sunday, learned how to win close games. After losing a one-run game on Friday in extra innings, Clemson fought back to pull out a 5-3 win on Saturday, and then on Sunday Rubino’s throw and then a Jay Baum hard single to short allowed the Tigers to escape with a second straight victory to win the series.
“By far this will help us in the end,” Leggett said. “It might make things intense at different times, but I think it will help us in the very end. That is a good ball club. That team can play in our conference. They have some good players on their team and they made some good plays.
“They made a couple of mistakes today, and were able to take advantage of them.”
Clemson catcher Garrett Boulware, who hit .273 and had four RBIs in the opening series, says Eastern Michigan deserves more credit for the way it played than anything Clemson was doing wrong.
“People look at us and they think it is bad that we won only two of three from Eastern Michigan, but the thing is they are a good baseball team,” the junior said. “If they play like that, they can play in any conference in the country. I mean, they were a great baseball team.
“So yeah, we went 2-1, but we went didn’t beat just another random team. That was tough. I think it showed a lot about our toughness as a team. We did not give up. There were many times where we were like, ‘Man! They just scored another run.’ We could have given up and I was expecting it out of some of us, but they were tough and they handled the adversity and we played very well through it.”
And more importantly, they got two wins in three games. If the Tigers do that every weekend for the next 14 weeks, then they will be in very good shape at the end of the year.
“We still have some youth and everyone continues to get a little bit better. We had a good weekend,” Leggett said.
And there is nothing wrong with going 2-1 on the weekends.