Clemson Facing Pitching Questions Heading Into Rubber Game Against Gamecocks

Tristan Smith Jason Priester All Clemson

GREENVILLE, S.C.- To say Clemson’s pitching staff is currently a little shorthanded might be putting mildly.

The Tigers came into the annual rivalry series against South Carolina missing Friday starter Ryan Ammons, as well as Willie Weiss, one of the biggest pieces in the bullpen. Add in Billy Barlow, who was a part of the starting rotation last season, and there is no denying that Clemson is missing some integral parts of the pitching staff.

With Ammons out, Austin Gordon was moved into the Friday spot, and he pitched well, throwing 4.2 scoreless innings, in helping Clemson to a series opening win. Freshman Tristan Smith started the second game, also throwing 4.2 scoreless innings, while striking out five Gamecock hitters.

The question now becomes who will start the series finale on Sunday in Columbia. Head coach Erik Bakich said that Caden Grice was an option, but after his ninth inning ejection for arguing balls and strikes, it is expected that he will be suspended for game three.

“I don’t know,” Bakich said. “We got to see who’s available and find out what the rule is on on the ejection there and see who all’s available.”

Clemson used six pitchers in Saturday’s 11-9 loss that allowed South Carolina to tie up the series at one game apiece. One of those was Jay Dill, who has been the Tigers’ Sunday starter the first two weekends. Dill pitched just 1.2 innings, but threw 38 pitches, allowing two late home runs that put the Gamecocks in front for good.

“We really sold out to try to win game two right here,” Bakich said. “We tried to throw the kitchen sink at them, and unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us. Like Jay Dill, who’s been our game three starter, we rolled the dice, put him in there at the end, and didn’t work out.”

While Bakich had no answer yet for who might start on Sunday, he insisted that everyone is a candidate, meaning some guys might have to go on short rest. Shorthanded or not, though, the head coach is offering up no excuses, as his team heads into one of its biggest games of the early season.

“I think everyone’s a candidate,” Bakich said. “At this point, with all the pitches that are out, it’s an all hands on deck type of approach. We’ve got quite a few guys out. And we won’t ever make an excuse about that because nobody cares. But we’ll definitely find out who’s available and probably be after guys to throw on short rest. We’ll piece it together one way or the other.”

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