Through seven games thus far, Clemson pitching has recorded three shutouts and nearly had a third on Sunday. To put that into perspective, the Tigers had three shutouts combined the last two seasons.
The pitching has been so good, the Tigers are putting up numbers they have not recorded as a program in 53 years.
“Did I think we would be this good? I knew we would be good. I really did,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said following Sunday’s 3-1 win over Stony Brook.
Clemson (7-0) carried a shutout into the seventh inning before the Seawolves broke the Tigers’ streak of 33 scoreless innings by scoring an unearned run. The 33 scoreless innings dated back to Wednesday’s win over Furman as Clemson went the last eight innings against the Paladins without allowing a run and then the first two games of its series with Stony Brook this weekend, including a 10-inning game on Saturday.
The Tigers currently have an ERA of 0.70.
“I felt very confident in saying [before the season] that I think we would be very good on the mound,” Lee said. “To this extent. I don’t know if you can ask a pitching staff to be this good through seven games. That is asking a whole lot to throw up that many zeros and to pitch as many quality innings as we have had so far this year by the guys we have been running out there. But it has been a lot of fun to watch and we know that our pitching staff is going to give us a chance to stay in every ballgame.”
The 33 scoreless innings were the longest at Clemson since 1967, when those Tigers pitched 38 scoreless innings from May 3 through May 9 of 1967.
“It’s pretty cool,” said pitcher Mat Clark when asked about being a part of something that has not happened in 53 years. “We know our staff. We have been doing pretty good so far and hopefully, we can keep it going forward. Clemson baseball has a great history of pitching. But we are going to take it game by game and try to keep doing what we are doing.”
Clark pitched four innings on Sunday in relief of starter Spencer Strider, who was on a pitch count and left the game with two outs in the third inning after throwing 51 pitches. The two pitchers combined to pitch 6 2/3 innings, allowing the one unearned run while striking out nine batters and walking none.
“We knew we had a pretty good group of guys in the fall,” Clark said. “I don’t know if we expected ourselves to put up the amount of zeros we are right now. We know we are going to try and keep doing that moving forward, but we know the staff has a lot of confidence right now and we are going to try and keep going.”
In their three-game sweep of Stony Brook, the Tigers pitched 28 innings, allowed one run, no earned runs, had 43 strikeouts and walked just five batters. Even more impressive was the way in which each pitcher made the big pitch when he needed it.
Several times over the weekend, Stony Brook had runners in scoring position and even in the one instance the Seawolves scored a run, Clemson pitching still executed the pitch.
“Up to this point, it seems like our guys make bigger pitches in pressure situations right now, just with runners on base,” Lee said. “I think the success that we have had with runners on base so far is the execution of our pitches with runners on base. There are times when guys put a little too much pressure on themselves in those moments and they wind up walking a batter or leaving a pitch over the plate and giving up a big hit. That is going to happen, we know that. At some point and time, it is going to happen, but so far, the thing that has impressed me so much is just the ability to execute a big pitch in a big spot with runners on base.
“The thing that has really stood out to me is just the amount of strikes. Again, we are not giving anybody anything. Right now, we are forcing the other dugout to earn every base runner that they can get.”
And so far, opponents are not getting very many of them.
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