This time one week ago, the Clemson baseball team had won 9 consecutive ACC games heading down to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech. The Tigers would pick up the 10th straight conference victory Friday night, and then things started changing.
The Tigers had a 3-1 lead versus Georgia Tech on Saturday, but starter Jason Berken was losing his velocity, and the Tigers had to turn to the bullpen. The floodgates broke wide open, and things took a turn for the worse. From that point to now, the Tigers have been outscored 44-11. Is there a cause for concern?
Bear in mind concern is a far cry from panic, but the Tigers have some glaring issues. The inability to hit left handing pitching has been an issue since last season. The bullpen is becoming a major concern, when you look ahead to how the Tigers could far in the tournament. Also, with 8 of 9 batters returning from last season and a similar schedule, teams have had outstanding scouting reports on Clemson, but that is not excuse.
One concern that does not show up in the box score is how the Tigers pitching has faired with two strikes on a batter. It has been an issue since the Sunday game against South Carolina earlier in the year. On Tuesday, David Kopp got ahead of the batter 0-2 with two runners on and 2-1 Clemson lead. Kopp and Casanova tried to work the corners, and the count was worked full. On a 3-2 pitch, Heath Rollins got a pitch to hit, and he planted it in the woods behind right field.
Against Furman, every hit Steve Richard gave up was with two strikes. The triple off of Richard with the bases loaded on Saturday was with two strikes.
Casanova is still calling the game from behind the plate, but with the recent problems, one has to wonder, if the staff will stick to the faster pace or if Kevin O’Sullivan will go back to calling the game.
This team has thrived against big opponents, which is a cause for concern because the Tigers have played the toughest part of their schedule from a quality of opponent standpoint. Coach Leggett took his team into the locker room for the post-game meeting last night, and Tiger fans can only hope the teams responds as they did after getting swept by Virginia.
A national seed is slipping away, but a sweep in Boston this weekend, and the ship could be righted.