When Monte Lee was asked about Sam Hall’s amazing catch in left field in the top of the ninth inning during Monday’s 5-4 win over No. 15 Florida State, the Clemson coach was not 100-percent sure the freshman was going to make the catch based on where he was and how hard the ball was hit.
Quite frankly, Hall was not sure he had it either.
In a tied ball game with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and FSU’s Cal Raleigh on first base, Drew Mendoza hit a scorching line drive towards the left centerfield gap.
“Honestly I didn’t think I was going to have to catch it,” Hall said after the game. “I thought (Drew) Wharton was going to be able to get to it. So I was just running because I had to.
“Then it was cutting back to me and so I was like, ‘I got to catch this ball,’ and that was it. I just threw the glove up.”
The athleticism shown by Hall not only robbed Mendoza of an extra base hit, but also saved the game for the Tigers, who won 5-4 on a walk-off home run by Jordan Greene in the bottom of the ninth inning.
When Mendoza came up to bat the Clemson outfield was positioned in a “no doubles” defense. The setup allowed the three outfielders to play very deep and the two corner outfielders to take away the gaps.
“With Raleigh at first base we knew we could give them the (left field) line because if a ball was hit towards the line we felt like we’d be able to get to the ball and have a play at the plate,” Lee said. “Whereas, if a ball is hit in the gap it’s going to be a little bit easier for Raleigh to be able to score. So we had (Hall) in the gap already.
“But that ball was absolutely drilled and for him to have no fear whatsoever of the hill or the wall says a lot about Sam Hall. He ran full speed up the hill and made a catch. It’s just an unbelievable play and as athletic of a play as I’ve seen this year. It was just unbelievable.”
As challenging of a play as it was, Hall had no fear. He is confident in his abilities, especially in the outfield and knew he was capable of making the play.
“Your instincts take over and I’ve played outfield my whole life so at the point you know to check at the wall, you know kind of where everything is,” he said. “I’ve taken reps out here too so in that moment (there is no fear).”
As a true freshman, the former Topsail High School standout had his first start as a Tiger just recently on April 25th, due to other players out with injuries. Hall proved his talent and abilities immediately and has since produced both at the plate and in the field at multiple positions. He attributes his success to all the work he continued to put in while he was not playing.
“(My confidence) is high right now,” he said, “but a lot of that came from all of the hard work I put in when I wasn’t playing because that’s all you can really trust.”