CLEMSON, S.C.- Erik Bakich wants his Friday night starter to set the tone for the entire weekend, and that is exactly what Ryan Ammons did in Clemson’s 11-3 season-opening win over Binghamton.
The hard-throwing lefty went five strong innings in his first career start, allowing just one run on three hits. Ammons struck out nine of the 18 hitters he faced, and had no walks.
“Great tone setter tonight, Ryan pitched very well,” Bakich said. “Talked a lot about just point of emphasis and just attacking and throwing a lot of strikes and relentless attack on the strike zone and that’s what he did for five straight innings.”
After serving as the Tigers’ closer a season ago, Ammons is making the transition to starting pitcher under the new coaching staff. Whether he’s coming out of the bullpen or starting on the weekends, the redshirt junior said his recipe for success is simple.
“I think it’s all about throwing strikes, attacking the strike zone,” Ammons said. “I felt like our whole entire staff did that today.”
As strong as Ammons looked in the season-opening win, he did run into some trouble in the top of the third. After retiring the first hitter of the inning, he allowed three consecutive singles, which cut Clemson’s early lead to 2-1, giving the Bearcats runners at first and second with just one out. Ammons would then strike out the next two hitters swinging, getting out of the jam without allowing any further damage.
“We knew he would find a way out of it,” Bakich said. “He doesn’t seem to be a kid that gets rattled. Even if he gave up a run we knew he would respond. It was only that one inning that he actually even allowed baserunners. So four out of five innings he had one-two-threes. It was a pretty awesome response.”
It was exactly the way Bakich expected his Friday night starter to respond. The veteran head coach said that the more Ammons has settled into the role of a starting pitcher throughout the offseason, the better he’s looked. And like any good starter, the deeper he gets into a game, the stronger he gets.
However, Bakich was anxious to see how some of his players would respond when faced with some adversity, and one game in, Ammons passed that test with flying colors.
“As he’s learned it and as he settled in, we’ve found that he gets better as the as the innings go on,” Bakich said. “It’s college baseball, it’s metal bats, it’s hitterish type days like today. There’s good players and people are going to score runs. But he’s not a guy that seems like he’s going to be rattled or phased. If he gets knocked down, he’ll get right back up, because that is the type of kid he is.”
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