Clemson head coach Monte Lee said lefty Charlie Barnes will get the start on the mound when the No. 5 seeded Tigers play No. 9 Duke at 7 p.m., on Tuesday in their first game of the ACC Tournament from Louisville Slugger Park in Louisville, Ky.
Lee spoke with the media on Monday as part of the ACC Coaches Teleconference to preview this week’s ACC Tournament.
Barnes leads the Tigers (39-17) with a 2.81 ERA. He has a 5-4 record in 14 starts. In 89 2/3 innings of work, the junior leads Clemson with 105 strikeouts and he has thrown just 21 walks.
Barnes is coming off a no-decision at NC State this past Thursday where he pitched seven complete innings, while allowing two earned runs on seven hits. He had 11 strikeouts in the game and issued just one walk.
“Barnes will be on four days rest so he should be good to go,” Lee said. “We will also have Eubanks available out of the bullpen.”
Lee says Pat Krall will probably not be available to use out of the bullpen on Tuesday after he started Game 3 of the NC State series on Saturday.
“He is going to want the ball at the end of the game,” the Clemson coach said while chuckling. “But he is only going to be on two full days of rest so I don’t think we will do that. Eubanks will be available out of the pen and the bottom line is we are going to do everything we can to win Game 1.”
That’s was Clemson’s approach last year, which led to the Tigers’ perfect run through the tournament and their first ACC Tournament Championship in 10 years.
“That will give us the opportunity, especially with two full days off on Wednesday and Thursday to make the decision as to whether we will start Eubanks in Game 2 or Krall on Friday and then possibly use Eubanks again out of the pen or possibly hold him for a Game 3 start, or start Eubanks on Friday and then use Krall out of the pen.
“The bottom line for us, as far as our game plan, is to use the guys that we have available to win Game 1. Once we win Game 1, then we will let the dust settle and we will figure out what we will do in Game 2 based on who we have used and based on how many pitches they have thrown.”
Lee likes the fact he has three starters in Eubanks, Krall and Tyler Jackson who have experience as starters or can come out of the bullpen if need be.
“Hopefully, we are in a position to have to make that decision because that means we had a deep run in the ACC Tournament.”
Updates on Miller and Crawford. Lee said losing right-handed pitcher Ryan Miller (arm) out if his bullpen this year has been a big blow to the team, as has not having sophomore Brooks Crawford available.
Lee said having Miller, along with Ryley Gilliam, available to close was like having 1a and 1b in the closer’s role. Crawford, who pitched for an inning at NC State on Saturday, has been suffering from mononucleosis the second half of the season.
Crawford is 4-0 with a 1.45 ERA in 16 appearances. Miller is 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA in 11 appearances. He also has one save.
“You take two guys out of your pen that have been throwing meaningful innings and that can hurt you as well,” Lee said. “It is what it is. You have to deal with it and you hope other guys around them will step up and fill meaningful innings and meaningful roles for us.”
Pinder ready to go. Lee says centerfielder Chase Pinder is okay and is scheduled to practice on Monday when the Tigers get to Louisville in the afternoon. They expect him to be 100-percent and ready to go unless he gets into practice and is unable to participate.
Lee said the junior’s knee was swollen on Saturday after running into the fence on Friday in Game 2 at NC State. That is why they held him out of Saturday’s game.
How will Williams be used in the tournament? Lee said catcher Chris Williams will likely be unable to catch in the ACC Tournament this week. He said they will continue to use him as the designated hitter. Williams will practice later today and they will have him throwing and catching some, but Lee does not expect the junior to be ready to catch for the Tigers in the tournament.
Williams injured his shoulder while diving back to the bag at first base in Game 2 two weeks ago against Nevada.
Williams’ batting average has dropped to .272 and he has just two hits since injuring his shoulder. He was hitting above .300 before the injury. However, he did hit a three-run homer in his last at-bat in Saturday’s win at NC State.