Clemson pitcher Alex Eubanks does not like his nickname, but it has stuck nonetheless.
“We call him the ‘Bulldog’. He can’t stand that, so if anybody sees him, tell him he’s the ‘Bulldog’,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said jokingly earlier this week.
Like it or not, Eubanks’ performance during Clemson’s game against UNC Greensboro in Game 2 of the Clemson Regional on Friday night may have cemented his title as the “Bulldog” of the Tigers’ pitching staff.
The redshirt sophomore right-hander threw 7.2 strong innings, giving up just seven hits, three runs and a walk while striking out five to earn the win in Clemson’s 5-4 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Eubanks was far from flawless. Five of the seven hits he allowed went for extra bases, including three doubles and two home runs. However, in a bulldog-like performance, Eubanks battled, did his job and put Clemson in position to earn the win.
“You can’t dwell on mistake pitches or when they score runs,” Eubanks said after the game. “You just have to forget about it and move on. Once it happens, there’s really nothing you can do except for keep battling and give your team the best chance to win you can. So, you just have to forget it.”
UNC Greensboro’s Caleb Webster got his team on the scoreboard first in the top of the fourth inning with a solo home run down the left-field line. After Clemson answered with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Cesar Trejo hit a home run to left-center in the seventh — the first of his two long balls for the Spartans in the contest — to cut their deficit to 4-2.
Despite the damage done against him, Eubanks remained in control of the game by continuing to pitch aggressively, work efficiently and command the strike zone. He managed to pitch into the eighth inning before exiting following a two-out single by Andrew Moritz, who came around to score and close the book on Eubanks’ final line.
At the end of the day, the runs and hits Eubanks yielded were minor blemishes on an otherwise outstanding outing. He received a standing ovation from the packed crowd and hugs from his teammates as he walked off the mound after throwing 100 pitches.
Eubanks is now 2-0 in two career starts in the NCAA Tournament, with a 2.22 earned run average and 1.17 WHIP in those games. Last season, with Clemson facing elimination against Western Carolina, the native of Moore, S.C., tossed his first career complete game to earn the win in the Clemson Regional on June 5, 2016.
“Alex is a big-game pitcher,” Lee said. “In big situations, it seems like any time we need a big start out of Alex, he gives us one. He executed pitches, did an outstanding job. Thought he got better as the game went on. So, Alex definitely deserves a lot of recognition after this game. He did a great job.”
It was a bounce-back effort for Eubanks, who had given up eight earned runs in his last 10.1 innings pitched over three games (one start) entering Thursday’s contest.
Overall, Eubanks has been a reliable member of Clemson’s starting rotation. He now has a 4.07 ERA across 101.2 innings pitched with a stellar 6.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“Every time you pitch, you’re able to grow,” Eubanks said. “So, I try to grow each and every week, and no matter how it goes, you try to take what you can each week and move that on to the next game.”