Photo by © David Grooms/Clemson Sports Talk
Clemson Baseball

Clemson falls to Florida State in game one with 'all the chips on the table'

May 6, 2018

CLEMSON -- Florida State’s Steven Wells was 0-for-6 before he stepped up to the plate in the top of the 13th inning.

A Saturday night crowd of over 5,000 had dwindled down but was still just as electric when Ryley Gilliam held a 1-2 count with two outs.

The sure-handed relief pitcher had just eclipsed the 80-pitch mark after coming into the game with the game tied in the 9th inning. Gilliam was dealing and had thrown seven strikeouts before Wells silenced the standing Clemson crowd for good.

“Proud of our guy's efforts. Thought we competed hard, but we just came up short."
- Monte Lee

Wells' solo home run in the top of the 13th gave the Seminoles the victory in game one of the gigantic weekend series, 3-2. Saturday night’s game had just a little bit of everything.

“It was a great baseball game,” Monte Lee said after the loss. “Proud of our guy's efforts. Thought we competed hard, but we just came up short. Hopefully, Brooks (Crawford) will be able to give us a good outing tomorrow and get us back in the series.”

Lee said Thursday this weekend series “won’t make or break” Clemson’s season. That statement is probably true, but the stakes seem much higher after what ensued against a ranked Florida State squad in game one.

The No. 9 ranked Tigers were down 3-2 in the bottom of the 13th when Florida State’s relief pitcher CJ Van Eyk walked Logan Davidson to lead things off. Seth Beer, who was 0-for-5, hit a weak ground ball to second base for a routine play but an errant throw sent Beer to second and Davidson to third.

© David Grooms/Clemson Sports Talk
Clemson looks to bounce back following a series-opening 3-2 loss to Florida State Friday night.

On a bang-bang play, Davidson was called out at third after the throw from first got there just in time. Davidson had slid into second but had to go back and touch the base before running to third causing the play to be so close.

With Beer in scoring position, the momentum was shot, and Clemson flew out twice to end the game.

“(Davidson) took responsibility for it, but on the other side, he was trying to be aggressive. You can’t fault him for being aggressive,” Lee said.

The theme for this weekend for Clemson’s success is to be the more aggressive team. Even though Clemson was outhit 15-6 offensively, the defense and pitching staff battled and kept the game close even when it looked like Florida State had the comfortable lead.

Left-handed starters Jacob Hennessy and Drew Parrish set the tone early that the game was going to be a pitchers duel. Hennessy lasted 5.1 innings and gave up seven hits but only allowed one run to cross home plate.

But Parrish and the rest of Florida State’s staff mowed Clemson down with ease for most of the night. Parrish threw eight strikeouts while reliever CJ Van Eyk threw seven. The Seminoles are ranked No. 6 in the country in strikeouts per nine innings at 10.3.

Tonight, their pitching staff threw 15 in 13 innings. Translation: their arms are freaking good and consistent.

Clemson only mustered up two hits before the 7th inning and Parrish hadn’t walked anyone. After striking out Seth Beer to start the inning, Parrish walked three consecutive batters to load the bases for Clemson.

Two back-to-back hits from Jordan Greene and Davidson in the 8th inning tied the game at two just like that, and the marathon to the finish was on.

The PA system blasted “Heat is On” as Florida State head coach Mike Martin approached the mound and Parrish’s outstanding day was done in a matter of moments. In came Jonah Scolaro, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Drew Wharton which cut the Florida State’s lead in half.

A wild pitch and the fourth walk of the inning loaded the bases for pinch-hitter Robert Jolly, who lives for pressure at-bats. Jolly fouled off multiple pitches to stay alive before striking out on a 2-2 count.

Two back-to-back hits from Jordan Greene and Davidson in the 8th inning tied the game at two just like that, and the marathon to the finish was on. Gilliam came in, and Lee decided to roll with him for the rest of the game.

Lee said Thursday that Gilliam is pitching the best of his career right now. As the innings rolled on and the pitch count rose, Gilliam was burned for the weekend after throwing 92 pitches in four innings.

Gilliam said after the game that he felt great and could have thrown two more innings if he needed to.

“Once he got to pitch number 45 or 50, we knew he was done for the weekend so we might as well roll with him,” Lee said. “He gave us the best shot to win the ballgame, and we put all our chips on the table by trying to win the game. He pitched his butt off.”

But the aggressiveness with runners in scoring position, or lack thereof, is what did Clemson in. The Tigers were only 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and were thrown out on the basepaths four different times.

Now, Clemson has to find a way to bounce back for the rest of the series. First pitch of game two is at 4:00 PM on Sunday.

“It’s so important,” Gilliam said. “... I don’t think that’s going to stop us from competing the same way tonight, tomorrow, and the rest of the series.”

A series that didn’t seem like a big deal before feels a lot bigger now.

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