Friday’s day off can play to Clemson’s advantage
DURHAM, N.C. — If you are wondering why Clemson got the day off the day before the semifinal round of the 2018 ACC Baseball Championship … it’s because it asked for it.
Because they are the No. 2 seed in this week’s baseball tournament in Durham, N.C., the Tigers were asked by the ACC if they had a preference for taking a day off. Given the fact the bullpen is Clemson’s strength, head coach Monte Lee asked for Friday off just in case his Tigers were playing in the semifinals.
Well, they are. Third-ranked Clemson will play the winner between tonight’s NC State-Florida State game in one of two semifinal games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
“We wanted to play back-to-back days and give our bullpen a day off,” Lee said Friday prior to the Tigers’ practice at Durham Athletic Park. “Though we did not know how the first days would turn out from a pen perspective, our team is built off of using our bullpen. We felt like playing back-to-back days and a day off, would be the best setup for our bullpen. That is why we chose to have Friday off and it has worked out great for us because two of the three pitchers that we have used the most, we have not had to pitch yet and we have not warmed them up yet so we can stretch those guys out, if needed, behind our starter.”
Those two pitchers are Carson Spiers and All-ACC first-team closer Ryley Gilliam. Lee confirmed The Clemson Insider’s report from Thursday night that Jake Higginbotham will get the start in Saturday’s game. If for some reason they need to, Lee said they will go with Jacob Hennessy out of the bullpen, if they are in a situation where he gives them the best chance to win the game.
But Lee would like to have Hennessy, who has been the Tigers’ regular Friday night starter, available for Sunday if they advance to ACC Championship Game. Hennessy has not pitched since the first game of the Austin Peay series back on May 11.
Lee decided to shut him down last week due to some soreness in his arm.
With Hennessy still available to pitch, it makes Friday’s day off even bigger for the Tigers. It’s without a doubt an advantage of being the Atlantic Division Champions.
“The one seed gets to pick their day off, but they did ask us if we had a day that we preferred and we gave them our preference, but (the ACC) makes that decision,” Lee said. “So we were granted Friday as our off day and it has worked out good for us.”
Clemson will play the winner between NC State and Florida State at 5 p.m. Saturday in the second game of the ACC semifinals.