Tunnel vision: Focused Clate Schmidt beats South Carolina


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Schmidt throws a pitch Saturday against South Carolina (Photo by David Grooms)
Schmidt throws a pitch Saturday against South Carolina (Photo by David Grooms)

GREENVILLE – Clear the mechanism.

Michael Shaara’s baseball novel about an aging pitcher looking for perfection in For Love of the Game uses that phrase as the pitcher blocks out all distractions with a steely-eyed focus.

Clemson defeated South Carolina 5-0 Saturday in Greenville at Fluor Field behind a young pitcher who showed that same kind of focus.

Senior Clate Schmidt has had a lot of distractions over the last 10 months as he battled cancer and started his comeback, but when took the mound Saturday afternoon there was only one thing on his mind – beating South Carolina.

“Selfishly, there was a tunnel vision looking towards this game and this series, but more so it made it even sweeter that our team came out and performed extremely well today after handling adversity last night,” Schmidt said after Clemson’s win over the Gamecocks. “Being able to show that we are an extremely competitive team and a team that is a force to be reckoned with.”

Schmidt, who pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up just one hit and four walks while striking out six, said he simply wanted to give his team a chance.

“My main concern today was to be able to swing momentum into our dugout going into Sunday,” Schmidt said. “My job was to go out there and give us a quality start and be able to give our offense every opportunity to put some runs on the board and they did exactly that. Tomorrow, we get the opportunity to bring it home and win this series on our turf. It was definitely exciting after, but there wasn't any thought of it before the game.”

The victory evened the series with the Gamecocks after South Carolina won game one Friday night in Columbia on the pitching of Schmidt’s brother Clarke, and he said that his family is fortunate that both brothers had solid outings during their turns on the mound.

“We'll see how it goes tomorrow for who gets bragging rights,” Schmidt said. “He had a great outing and I was fortunate enough to have a great outing, especially with the guys who played defense behind me and Pat Krall coming in and saving me. It could've gone either way today and I'm extremely excited for our players.”

The Schmidt brothers met their parents after the game and, as you would expect, the reunion was extremely emotional.

“It was huge. I was overwhelmed with emotion even during the game,” he said. “It was a really special moment for us to be able to share together as a family. To be able to do it with this group of guys as well, is incredible.”

However, as competitors and rivals, the two won’t do much talking until the series is settled Sunday afternoon.

“I went over and congratulated him even as salty as I was. He sent me a text this morning and said, 'Good luck,' but other than that we know that we're both extreme competitors and we know not to really talk to each other until the day is done,” he said. “Tomorrow we'll get to say what's up and get to grab a bite to eat afterward. We are both extremely fortunate to be able to pitch well and our team was extremely fortunate to pull out a good win today.”

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