When he was asked how it felt to come out of the bullpen and get back on the mound again after a bad outing the week before, Clemson pitcher Pat Krall simply smiled and said, “It’s a good feeling to get an out.”
Though the senior was joking and laughing with his teammates on stage after Friday’s 5-4 victory over UNC Greensboro in the Clemson Regional, there was some meaning to his statement. In last week’s ACC Championships, Krall could not get an out against Virginia as the Cavaliers ripped him for six straight hits and six runs to start the game. It was the worst outing of the lefty’s career.
“It is just good to get back on the mound and help us win in a regional. I’m looking forward to a good night tomorrow against Vandy,” Krall said. “I’m excited for it.”
The 5,095 fans that were in attendance on Friday were excited to see Krall as well when he came in the top of the ninth inning with the Tigers clinging to a 5-4 lead after UNCG’s Cesar Trejo hit his second home run of the game to start the inning. It was Krall’s first relief appearance in over a year when he came in against Florida State in the ACC Championship Game on May 29, 2016.
“It was kind of nice coming out of the bullpen again,” Krall said. “It was a good feeling coming into the ninth with the lead at home and being in front of that crowd. For me, it was about making pitches and giving my team a chance to win the best way I can.”
Clemson head coach Monte Lee said the plan all along was to bring Krall into the game for Ryley Gilliam after Gilliam, a righty, faced Trejo.
“We felt like right handers were a little bit of a better option,” Lee said. “Once we got through Trejo, we felt like the matchup was to go to Krall and he did an unbelievable job.”
Krall got Austin Embler to fly out to centerfield for the first out. After Ryne Sigmon singled to short, the Clemson pitcher got Devin Ruiz to ground out to the mound and then got Ben Spitznagel to line out to second to retire the side to record his first save in more than a year.
“Whether it is starting or coming out of the bullpen, for me it is about going into a game where I can help us win,” Krall said. “That’s what is important.
“I try to go into every game like I am going to go in. Unless I’m down for the day, then I’m a little more relaxed and loose down in the dugout, but every day I’m in the bullpen, I know I am live whether they tell me they will use me or not. I’m going to lock in and pretend that I’m going to be in that game that way I am ready for it.”
Lee isn’t sure how he will use Krall against Vanderbilt in the winner’s bracket game today at 7 p.m. or the rest of the weekend. Typically, once they pitch someone out of the bullpen, they keep him there the rest of the weekend.
However, Krall threw just one inning and tossed 18 pitches to record the save so he is still available to start in a third game or fourth game if necessary in the regional.
“We will cross that bridge when we get there,” Lee said. “It will depend a lot on what we do tomorrow … If we use him out of the pen then we will keep him in the pen. There is an outside chance. I’m not looking that far ahead right now.
“I can tell you this, if we have a lead late and we need to go to him, we are going to go to him. We are going to do everything we can to win Game 2. If we have to use Pat we will.”