on April 29, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson pitcher struggles in loss to Yellow Jackets

CLEMSON — Some times it just happens. A pitcher pitches so many innings in a season, it’s impossible for him to be perfect in every outing.

Until Sunday’s 6-3 loss to No.24 Georgia Tech, Clemson’s Ryan Hinson had been the closest thing to perfect than any other pitcher on the 19th ranked Tigers’ staff. Heading into Sunday, he had compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.03 ERA and pitched no fewer than 4 innings in any of his 10 starts.

But on Sunday, that wasn’t the case. Hinson, a sophomore from Rock Hill, struggled right out of the gates, loading the bases with three walks in the top of the first and allowing one run on a base hit before getting out of the jam with a strikeout and inducing a ground ball to the mound.

“I didn’t get us started on the right foot,” he said. “I have to take the blame for this one.”

The lefty struggles continued from there. He gave up a base hit in the second and another walk in the third, before issuing two more free bases and a third hit in the fourth that ended his afternoon.

“He just didn’t have his control,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. “He got off to a rocky start. We were lucky to get out of the first inning with only one run, and then we just made a couple of mistakes.”

Hinson ended his day pitching just 3.2 innings, while allowing four runs. He walked six batters and hit two more. It was the sophomore’s worst outing since April 16th of 2006, and ironically, it was against the same team. Though he didn’t start that afternoon for the Tigers, he was just as ineffective as he was Sunday, allowing five runs on six hits with three walks in just 2.1 innings of work.

“I was trying to feel my way through it, instead of throwing the ball and trying to throw strikes,” Hinson said. “When you start to struggle like that, you have to try to put it behind you and go out there and pitch.

“You have to step up and be a team leader and today I didn’t do that.”

But Hinson shouldn’t take all the blame. His teammates also had a bad day. Clemson left 9 runners in scoring position and 13 stranded on base.

“The first five innings of the game we just didn’t play well,” Leggett said. “We didn’t pitch, hit or play defense at all.

“We let them get ahead early and we just couldn’t recover.”

Georgia Tech (27-17, 14-9 ACC) scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-0 lead thanks to a walk, a two-out double from Chris House, an error, another walk and a hit batter. All three runs were charged to Hinson, the first time this season he had allowed more than two runs in any inning.

That inning alone prevented the Yellow Jackets from being swept by Clemson for the first time since 2003. The Tigers won the first two games to take the series 2-1.

P.J. Zocchi came on in relief, allowing the last two runs in 3.2 innings of work. Matt Zoltak and Alan Farina closed out the game as Clemson (29-15, 13-8) gave up a season-high 10 walks as a team, while committing two errors.

After falling behind 5-0, the Tigers scored two in the sixth when pinch hitter Ben Paulsen scored Andy D’Alessio, and D.J. Mitchell, playing for the still ailing Brad Chalk, drew a walk with the bases load to score Marquez Smith. In all, Clemson loaded the bases in the fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth innings, but came away with just three runs.

“We just didn’t get that big hit when it matter and that’s the bottom line,” Leggett said. “We could never get it going. We did okay on offense, but we just didn’t do anything with men on base.”

Clemson will take the next five days off for finals before hosting Boston College next weekend. The Yellow Jackets are at South Florida next weekend and then get back in ACC play at North Carolina on May 11.