DURHAM, N.C. — With the bases loaded and no outs for Florida State in the top of the eighth inning Saturday in 2018 ACC Baseball Championship semifinal round, it appeared Ryley Gilliam’s 1-2 pitch to Drew Mendoza had caught the inside part of the strike zone as it was dropping down over the back side of home plate.
However, home plate umpire David Savage did not see it that way. He instead called a ball. Clemson head coach Monte Lee, who been battling for his players all night, finally lost his cool. He yelled at Savage from the edge of the dugout and said a few choice words that caused Savage to throw him out of the game.
Lee was hot. He threw the clipboard in his hand into the dugout and then raced out to home plate where he gave Savage a piece of his mind. He then grabbed his backpack and walked into the clubhouse.
“Well, obviously I can’t comment on the situation, but at that point I was pretty fired up. That’s about all I can say,” Lee said following the Tigers’ 5-4 loss to the Seminoles.
Despite the loss, the Tigers first in nine games, the players responded to their head coach’s emotions. Pitcher Ryley Gilliam pitched his self out of the jam, by striking out Mendoza and Reese Albert and then getting J.C. Flowers to ground out to third base to end the inning.
“I thanked him after the game for going to battle for us,” Higginbotham said. “Everyone in the dugout is competing. Everyone on the field is competing. Sometimes emotions run high.
“It means a lot that he’s going to go to battle for us, and he’s got our backs and he’s out there competing just as hard as we are. We compete on every pitch, that’s one of the staples of our program. To see our head coach do it, I think it gave us a little energy, and it helped Ryley get out of the inning. It was a big deal for our dugout at the time.”