Quietly, Jake Higginbotham is having a stellar season on the mound for 13th-ranked Clemson.
The Tigers’ Sunday starter has now won three consecutive starts following Sunday’s 9-4 win at Wake Forest. The lefty improved his record to 6-1 on the mound by pitching five scoreless innings at David Couch Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.
“I think I threw eighty-one pitches and seventy-two were fastballs,” Higginbotham said to The Clemson Insider after the game. “I challenged them in and was seeing if they could get the barrel up and they did not really square anything up.”
Wake got just four hits off Higginbotham, matching his second-lowest total in terms of hits allowed all season. Sunday’s game was the first time all year he did not allow a run.
“We had a good pitch-plan going into the game, based on the first two games, and we just executed well,” he said.
Higginbotham has been executing well a lot lately. During his three straight wins, he has allowed just four combined runs and 13 hits. His earned run average has dropped to 3.44, second among the Tigers’ weekend starters.
It’s been a good year so far for the redshirt sophomore, who went almost two years without pitching in a game after injuring his arm during his freshman season. It has been a tough and long road back, but now he is getting back to where he was before the injury.
Clemson has taken it slow with Higginbotham. Though he threw just 81 pitches Sunday, Clemson head coach Monte Lee pulled him after five innings, especially after he went into the eighth inning the week before in a win against Miami.
“Just going back to my last start, I threw the most pitches I have since my junior year of high school,” Higginbotham said. “I think fatigue set in a little bit. We had a deep bullpen going into today because we threw so well yesterday, so it was better option to go with (Travis) Marr in that situation because I was kind of out of gas.”
Higginbotham might have been a little tired, but Lee was proud of what he gave them in the five innings he was on the mound.
“He pitched extremely well,” Lee said. “Higginbotham just continued to throw up zeros after zeros.”