June 2, 2011
CLEMSON, SC – When Jonathan Meyer went down clutching his knee following a shot off the kneecap in last week’s ACC Tournament game against NC State, no one in the Clemson dugout or bullpen panicked. They had seen this before.
Though they were concerned for Meyer’s wellbeing, guys like Alex Frederick, Joe Moorefield and Scott Weismann knew they had a job to do. It was their turn to step up, again.
With injuries to starters like Kevin Brady and Dominic Leone to start the season, and the early season struggles for Weismann in the weekend rotation, the Clemson bullpen has had to put out a lot of flames this year, and for the most part has done an outstanding job.
So it comes to no one’s surprise really they will be expected to do the same as Clemson gets prepared to host Sacred Heart Friday (7 p.m.) in the first day of the Clemson Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Due to Meyer still showing signs of soreness in his right knee, Clemson head coach Jack Leggett has given the baseball to Firth, a sophomore who has started six games this season, while posting a 3-1 mark in those six starts.
“He has pitched on the weekends for us so he has been in some of these battles,” Leggett said. “We figure in order to win this tournament you are going to have to use up three or four guys if you are lucky enough to keep on winning.”
Though the Tigers (41-18) aren’t known for having a dominant starter on the mound as they have had in years past, they have been able to use an array of pitchers that have made them just as solid, if not more than previous seasons.
The pitching staff has a 3.12 ERA and .231 opponents’ batting average, which ranked third in the ACC this year. They have allowed 174 walks against 455 strikeouts, good for a 2.61-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“A lot of guys have a lot of innings,” Haselden said. “We don’t have that one guy that has started every weekend all year. Everyone has had to step up and I think that has been good for our depth. We have a lot of guys that can get it done.”
Haselden has gotten it done with a 5-1 record, which includes three saves as well as a 2.12 ERA in 23 appearances. Justin Sarratt has also done his part thanks to a 7-2 record with a 2.40 ERA along with 60 strikeouts against 13 walks in 17 appearances. He has started 12 games.
Meyer (5-2, 3.31 ERA) and Leone (6-2, 3.38 ERA) have also been solid starters for the Tigers, while Weismann has a team-high seven saves since moving to the closer role. Then there is Firth, who has a 4-1 record and a 3.27 ERA in 15 appearances.
“He has the experience. He is our guy,” Haselden said. “He will go get it done and we will be able to back him up if we need to.”
With temperatures expected to be in the mid to upper 90s this weekend, Leggett hopes to get at least six to seven innings from his starters. Then he will turn it over to a bullpen that has more than enough experience this season to finish the job.
“We have the depth to roll with it,” Haselden said. “I think we have enough guys that can step up and fill in for us.”
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