Monday, June 4, 2012

Summary of the Armpit

Photo by Mark Crammer of the Orange & White
When I first penned the Preview of the Columbia Regional, I figured it would be a similar story to the ACC Tournament. Close games, maybe one big burst of bats, decent pitching, but ultimately running out of gas.

For the most part I was right.

The bats did come out to play (thank you Messieurs Pohl & Felder). The final three games were close (combined 4-run margin of victories). The pitching was actually great (team ERA just over 3). But we never ran out of gas, only outs.

And that’s baseball.

And for once, I wish I were wrong. I wish I were writing this with Clemson preparing to host the Charlottesville winner. Or at least preparing for a do-or-die game against USC tonight.

But we lost. And because of this, I’m writing a summary of events. Not a preview of what’s next.

So – let’s take a look at the regional. Not so much what could’ve been, but what was.

Let’s do the ole Good, Bad, & Ugly and I’ll give a few final thoughts at the end.

USC’s mental toughness and opportunistic nature
For a team which had little to gain and much to lose, USC lost nothing, including games. They kept their streak intact, and even added a few more Clemson notches to their belt.

Take Friday night’s game. For six innings, no one got a hit. Literally. And the pressure was beginning to build to see who would crack first. But USC never did. And when Manhattan cracked the door ever so slightly, USC knocked the door down and took control.

On Saturday, the same deal. Clemson had a few chances early, but USC didn’t change, only plodded ahead. And the first mistake Gossett made, Matthews deposited to left.

Late in the game, when they were down two, they could’ve let the pressure get to them, but they didn’t. They scrapped and ultimately won in extras.

As for Sunday, they were on cruise control from the beginning. But sometimes this can cause you to relax too much. They didn’t and held on in the end.

Clemson’s Pitching & Effort
Other than a rough start from Haseldon, there is little a Tiger fan could complain about. Gossett and Leone were fantastic and Meyer’s relief role was nearly perfect.

From the effort standpoint, the Tigers could’ve cashed it in after losing the extra inning heartbreaker. Noon start in the hot sun with USC waiting in the shadows. But they didn’t.

They played well. Played hard. And won a tight game against Coastal and nearly won against USC in their elimination game.

Clemson’s Fundamentals
Looking at defensive stats doesn’t help much - only one unearned run. But three of USC’ four runs on Sunday came as the result of defensive errors. The first inning could’ve been over with only one run allowed and the lone run in the sixth occurred following an error. If those plays are made, then Sunday becomes a different game.

Additionally, Clemson took too many called third strikes and did not bunt well. 2-3 runners were lost due to poor bunt attempts or not moving over runners. When your offensive game depends on moving runners, you better do it well. And Clemson didn’t.

Coastal’s MO
Coastal boasted a Top 5 team ERA and two of the top hitters in the nation.

Their results against Clemson:
Starting Pitching, 6.1 IP, 10 ER. Against Manhattan, 9.0 IP, 0 ER

Big Hitters, 4-18, 1 RBI

A better performance from either starter may have spelled a different region for Coastal, as would having your big boppers produce in big situations

And getting behind early makes life tough, especially in post-season play.

Clemson’s Baserunning
The interference call early in the Saturday game is the white elephant, but Clemson made 3-4 other uncharacteristic mistakes on the base paths.

In the second Coastal game, Clemson lost three base runners:
Brittle was picked off
Shaffer thrown out (by a wide margin) trying to stretch a single into a double
McGibbon picked off

Manhattan’s Batting
4 total hits and one unearned run. All together, the pitching in Columbia was unbelievable, but the Jaspers should’ve been able to muster more than this.

If they got anything going on Friday night against USC, the pressure would’ve really been on USC. But they didn’t, and just ran out of gas in the end.

Final Thoughts
The Armpit put on a great regional. The games were entertaining, but in the end predictable. The teams finished in their seeded order.

But for Clemson’s sake, they did more than I thought they would. They played hard, didn’t give up, and had chances to win both games.

But they didn’t. And their season is over. They have questions to answer. Meanwhile, their rival continues to play.

Congrats to USC.

I just wish I were a little more wrong, this time.


  1. As a gamecock fan, that was a good read. both teams played very hard, great weekend of baseball.

    1. Thank you for checking us out.

      Both teams did play well and it was one of the best, and most competitive, regionals I've ever seen.

  2. bamalam-a-do-damalam-a-dambamalam bamalam-a-do-damalam-a-dambamalam

    1. Well played - made me chuckle.

      You should do something with your web address. The market is probably at its peak (at least I hope so).

  3. Sing a long with the tune.....

    "I was standing in 5-points,
    not doing any harm.
    Along came a pooleece man
    and took me by the arm.

    We went around the corner,
    he rang another bell.
    Here comes a car,
    that takes me onto jail.

    Next day, I gaze upon the wall,
    Cooties and the Tigers,
    were playing a game of ball.

    The score was 4 to 2,
    Tigers were ahead.
    Cooties hit a triple,
    and knocked me out of bed.......

    1. Well done. Clap. Clap. Clap.

      Seems I got the typical UCS treatment:

      "I was standing in 5-points,
      not doing any harm.
      Along came a pooleece man
      and took me by the arm.

    2. Typical USC treatment of late is a champions parade down Main Street and a celebration on the Capitol steps.

      Admittedly a little different than your average night out driving around with weed and pills in Tatertown.

    3. I wish we had reason to celebrate. But we don't.

      I wish we had a reason to fly the Paw above the State House. But we don't.

      But please don't compare the arrest records for the two schools. As long as 5 Points is near the campus, this will be one area us Tiger fans can lay claim to.

    4. As long as Sheriff Andy and Barney Fife are running the Clempsun Police Department, you're absolutely right, most crimes committed by Tater athletes will continue to be swept under the giant orange rug, just as they always have. I bet that poor officer who pulled Sammy Potkins over has already been called on the carpet for not turning his dashboard camera off. Hope the guy doesn't lose his job over his mistake.

      Please don't compare the character and behavior of the athletes of the two schools. As long as football players who beat on girls continue to receive little or no discipline, this will be one area that USC fans can lay claim to.

    5. I don't think anyone in Mayberry would be brave enough to put the biggest star on campus in the slammer just to make a point. If this were a walk-on, I might agree with you.

      I think the end result is that circumstances are rare when you can hold athletes up as role models. Both schools, and pretty much everyone else, has moments (and players) they'd like to forget. I'm afraid this part of the debate has no end - and thus no winner.

  4. And the mass deletion of comments continues... Sad.

    Typical Tater. Keep that head firmly buried in the sand, Jethro.

    1. Which comments have been deleted, my feathered friend?

      I deleted a few from the previous post, but all comments for the post have been here since the beginning.

      P.S. - thanks for coming back. Please continue to do so.

  5. Be honest...this blog is really run by Chad "Swag" Kelly, isn't it?

    Can't wait for that locker room cancer to get to Hooterville.

    1. Don't we all wish. Now that would be entertaining!

      Unfortunately, we have very dissimilar body styles. Someone on FGF posted the pic behind the mask, but fortunately for all the single ladies, FGF removed the post...

  6. I am a 1986 graduate of Clemson and I played both football and baseball. I write this to tell you that if you want to be taken seriously as a journalist you have to stop with this "UCS" stuff. It is down right childish. They have gotten the best of us recently but like all things that go in cycles we will be back on top soon enough.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts.

      I actually agree with you. I started it as a way to take a small stab at them without going the typical name-calling route, but I think it's become belabored.

      I might keep in the quiver, just in case I get involved in a 3rd grade tussle - again.

      Thanks again and I do hope you make us a regular stop on your Clemson media train.

  7. Thanks for a good read. I appreciate the even temper of the review of the regional. Baseball in the great state of South Carolina is alive and well! I always, always, worry about playing Clemson and was greatly relieved that we found a way to prevail. Tiger Nation should be proud of the product on the field last weekend.

    1. Thanks for the kind words and thanks for checking us out.

      It's our goal to create an even tempered place where we can discuss and debate, but have fun doing so.

      Feel free to come back and make us part of your reading regiment.


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