The Clemson baseball team faces a tall task if it is going to advance out of the Oxford Regional, but Tigers coach Monte Lee believes his club is up for it.
Clemson dropped its winners bracket game against Ole Miss Saturday night at Swayze Field and faces elimination Sunday afternoon against Jacksonville State.
If Clemson beats the Gamecocks it must then beat Ole Miss Sunday night and again Monday night to advance to a Super Regional.
“The plan is to be here for a while. That’s the goal. We’re going to try to be here for a while (Sunday). But we’ve got to worry about Game 1 first.” Lee said. “We’ve gotta find a way to fight and claw and just compete as hard as we can. We know what’s at stake. Our season’s on the line.”
Clemson will start righty Brooks Crawford against Jacksonville State. The senior is 1-4 and has a 6.28 ERA this season. Crawford has struggled in his last three outings, allowing nine runs combined in 3 2/3 innings.
If Crawford struggles Sunday he will likely have a short leash as Lee said Clemson will use everyone it can to win Game 1 and advance.
“Some guys are going to have to pitch on short rest, and we’ve got to compete,” Lee said. “We’ll empty the tank if we’ve got to empty the tank in Game 1 to try to win Game 1.”
Jacksonville State will counter with lefty Dylan Hathcock, who is 3-0 with a 4.01 ERA this season.
Clemson will need to have a better approach at the plate than it did against Ole Miss starter Doug Nikhazy. The freshman limited the Tigers to four hits over eight innings of work.
“Offensively I think we need to be a little bit better. We chased out of the zone quite a good bit tonight. We need to be a little more disciplined at the plate.” Lee said. “Hopefully in Game 1 we can find a way to score early. That’s been the biggest difference for us here lately. We’ve been able to score early and get deeper into the game with our starter. That’s the biggest key for us tomorrow.”
Tigers leading hitter Grayson Byrd, who had one of Clemson’s four hits off of Nikhazy Saturday night, isn’t giving up yet.
“If you’re doubting if we want it bad enough you’re talking to the wrong team. We want it bad, obviously. This is what we came here to Clemson to do,” he said. “Obviously our backs are against the wall a little bit but we’re gonna get some rest and be ready to go.”
Clemson vs. Jacksonville State game details
Who: Clemson (35-25) vs. Jacksonville State (38-22)
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Oxford, Mississippi (Swayze Field)
Watch: The game is not on TV. Stream it online via WatchESPN
Starting pitchers: RHP Brooks Crawford (Clemson) vs. LHP Dylan Hathcock (Jacksonville State)