Tiger pitchers shine in CWS

by - Senior Writer -

OMAHA, NE – “Dirty. Just dirty.”
Those were the words used by Clemson starting pitcher Casey Harman to describe the pitch thrown by his teammate, Alex Frederick, in striking out Arizona St.’s Zack MacPhee to end the seventh inning in Monday’s game in a bases-loaded situation that could have meant the difference between a win and a loss for the Tigers.

Harman had just loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh in Clemson’s opener in the College World Series contest against No. 1-seeded Arizona St., and with the Tigers clinging to a 6-2 lead, it brought the tying run to the plate.

Clemson head coach Jack Leggett pointed down to the bullpen and signaled for Frederick, the junior righty from New York, to come in and shut the door on the Sun Devil comeback attempt.

Consider that door closed, as Frederick got out of the inning with just one run allowed, but also pitched the final two without allowing any more damage in picking up his third save of the season.

Frederick got Austin Barnes to pop up to center for the first out, induced an RBI groundout from Drew Maggi for the second out, and that brought up MacPhee, the No. 2 hitter in the Sun Devil order and a .393 hitter on the season with nine homers and 64 RBI.

Frederick quickly jumped ahead of MacPhee on two quick strikes, then threw a cutter that started out of the middle of the plate before quickly heading for MacPhee’s shoe tops. MacPhee had no chance, flailing weakly at the pitch, striking out to end the inning and ending the Sun Devil rally.

Dirty. Just dirty.

Frederick said the cutter might have been the best he threw all day, and that he was more than happy to pick up his teammate in a crucial situation.

“It felt good because we always talk as the pitching staff, we're always behind you,” Frederick said. “And Casey knows there's always somebody behind him and I know there's somebody behind me. So I go out every time and try to do what I can to help him out when something happens, like bases loaded with no outs, to either get a double play ball or popup or something. I'm just trying to make my pitches and do my job.”

Harman said that once he left the mound, he went from being a pitcher to being a cheerleader for his teammate.

“I was really thinking, you know, as soon as you come off the field, there's guys out there who like to sulk, you know, I walked a couple of guys, bases loaded, I'm coming out, no outs,” Harman said. “That really wasn't my approach. It never really has been. I come off the mound. I shake it off and I'm right there cheering him on louder than anybody. And as a pitching staff collectively this year, we all know we have each other's back. And that's been kind of our thing. And when times really get hard for us, that's when we have to bear down.

“And I was just I was happy for him when he got off. I was the first one out there to greet him. It's not for the fact that he didn't give up my runs. It was for the fact that, you know, we've got a three run lead going into the 8th. And I'm proud of him, and he knows it's him that won the game.”

Leggett said that one of the keys that might be overlooked is the fact that the Tigers only had to use two pitchers in their opening game, a crucial component in a format like the College World Series.

“It's very good that we only used up two pitchers,” Leggett said. “It's big that Casey got us deep into the game. We felt like if it came to that point that Alex was going to be our guy. So we had that kind of thought coming in if his pitch count got up or we got in a situation where we had some righties coming up. So that was a big deal.

“And I think without question it helps that we only used two guys up, because we don't have that extra day's rest like everybody else does. So we've got to be ready to play tomorrow. We'll have guys ready to go tomorrow.”

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