JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Though tagged with the loss in Wednesday's 8-1 defeat by Virginia in the ACC Tournament, sophomore righthander Stephen Faris continues to pitch well at the top of the Tigers' rotation.
Before Wednesday Faris had won two straight outings, one a complete-game effort. And even in a losing cause vs. the Cavs, Faris was strong - 7 1/3 innings, three runs (just two earned), four strikeouts and no walks.
After battling location problems in his first two rotation starts, Faris has pitched like a legitimate No. 1 for Clemson, which should mean good things for next season.
"Once he got that worked out, he's been everything we hoped," pitching coach Kevin O'Sullivan said.
Wednesday, he matched Virginia starter Jeff Kamrath virtually pitch for pitch before leaving in the eighth inning trailing 2-1. An implosion by his bullpen overshadowed his performance to some.
But not his head coach.
"I thought Stephen pitched great," said head coach Jack Leggett. "He and Kamrath did what I expected...They both pitched very well."
Exactly one week after beginning its three-game sweep of then No. 4 Miami to close out the regular season, the Tigers and Hurricanes meet again today in Jacksonville.
And while one of them will go home much earlier than expected after today's 10 a.m. clash, the season will continue for both next weekend in the NCAA Regionals.
Having said that, going home 0-2 wouldn't exactly thrill anyone wearing Clemson orange. And Leggett, playing off a statement Faris made after Wednesday's loss, promised his team would be ready to play today.
"It's like Stephen said, there are two teams that have to play at (10 a.m.) and we're one of them," he said. "We've got Miami again. We know them and they know us. We can't whine and complain about it. WE just have to go out and play.
"If we want to play bad enough and stay in the tournament, then we'll come out ready to play first thing in the morning. I'm hoping the team reacts that way."
Speaking of Miami, it took righthander Cesar Carrillo almost two years and over 30 starts to lose his first collegiate game.
It took less than a week to get saddled with loss No. 2.
Carrillo was much better vs. N.C. State in Wednesday's first game than he was last Thursday when Clemson pounded him for 11 runs in a single inning. He allowed just two runs in the first inning to the Wolfpack Wednesday, then shut down State's high-powered offense the rest of the day.
Unfortunately for Carrillo, Miami scored just one run off Wolfpack starter Andrew Brackman (4-0) and closer Joey Devine.
"I was trying to throw strikes, and they got a couple walks, and were battling all day," Carrillo said. "A lot of full counts; they came out with a great game plan. They just got a couple guys that got a base hit when it counted."
- The Tigers almost struck big in the fourth inning, but Virginia third baseman Ryan Zimmerman turned in the defensive play of the game. With runners on first and second and one out, Adrian Casanova - already the owner of one double - smashed a Kamrath pitch down the third base line that appeared ticketed for extra bases. But Zimmerman deftly made a back-handed stab of the shot, stepped on third and threw to first to complete a double play and end the inning;
- Brad Chalk and Stan Widmann each had two hits for the Tigers in the loss;
- Junior righthander Josh Cribb (6-4, 3.80 ERA) will start for Clemson today. Miami is expected to counter with righty Dan Touchet (3-4, 5.34).
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.