Though he was a combined 1-for-9 against Austin Peay for the weekend, Clemson infielder Grayson Byrd was not thinking about any of that when he walked towards home plate to start the 11th inning Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
Instead, Byrd was loose and joking around with his teammates prior to his at-bat. Neither he or his teammates, in that moment, were thinking about the ramifications a loss to Austin Peay for the second time in three days could have on their national seed implications.
“At the end of the day, it is a game. We are just trying to have fun,” Byrd said. “Yes, we do take it serious, but at the same time we are trying to have fun.
“We are a group of guys who like to keep it loose and have fun.”
Byrd and the Tigers were having a lot of fun when the junior took Harley Gollert’s 1-0 offering and sent it over the left field wall to lift No. 5 Clemson to a 3-2 win over the Governors.
“He is just an even keel guy that always goes up there and takes his best swing,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “He happened to get a ball up in the air and he happened to hit out of the ballpark.”
Up until Byrd’s home run, it was a frustrating day for the Tigers at the plate. His home run was just the sixth hit of the afternoon in 11 innings.
Clemson (39-13) tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the runs came on a bases loaded drawn walk by Kyle Wilkie and a sac fly from Byrd.
The Tigers had opportunities to win the game in the ninth and 10th innings, but could not push the winning run across. Clemson had runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth and runners on second and third with no outs in the 10th and failed to get anyone home.
“With situations like today, when we have runners in scoring position in the ninth and tenth to score runs and we don’t, there is obviously some frustration in there,” Byrd said. “I’m always trying to get guys going. Telling them it is ‘going to be okay, let’s move on from it.’
“It is one of those things, you don’t have to prepare for it, I guess. But, you go out there and you try to stay loose and have fun.”
Byrd practices what he preaches because of anyone who had a reason to be frustrated about not only Sunday’s game, but the whole weekend, it was him. But he did not let the previous nine at-bats in the series affect what he wanted to do in his last at-bat.
“I did not let the first six or seven at-bats get the best of me,” he said. “Actually, it felt like the first two at-bats I took pretty good swings and it kind of did not fall or I was just missing balls so you just have to keep at it and be tough.”
And more importantly stay loose.