Sweet relief: freshman Zack Erwin shuts down Cavs, as Tigers snap streak

'It was good to snag one. It should have happened last night, but we just got a little unlucky. It was huge for us to bounce back'

Baseball - Pitcher Zach Erwin

Photo by Mark Crammer

Baseball - Pitcher Zach Erwin

After taking a beating on Friday night, Clemson's bullpen needed a lift.

It got that, and more, in the person of 6-foot-4 freshman lefthander Zack Erwin, who baffled Virginia on one hit for five innings and allowed the Tigers to pull out a 7-6 victory over the 12th-ranked Cavaliers Saturday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

"We told him that because we'd used so many guys last night, we needed to ride him as far as we could," said Clemson coach Jack Leggett. "He changed speeds, threw his breaking ball and kept them a little off-balance."

Erwin was more thrilled with Clemson's victory - its first in 10 games against Virginia - than his own performance.

"I'm just pumped that we won the game," said Erwin, who made his sixth appearance of the season. "From what I've heard, we've had a rough time with these guys - they're a good team. It was good to snag one. It should have happened last night, but we just got a little unlucky. It was huge for us to bounce back."

Erwin said he relied on three pitches.

"My slider was working good early, but it kind of tailed off and then picked back up at the end," he said. "My changeup also picked up at the end, and my fastball was pretty good the whole game. That's all I threw."

Erwin came on in the top of the fifth in relief of starter Clate Schmidt, who allowed a single and a triple to lead off the inning. Erwin retired his three batters on fly-outs.

The only hit he allowed came on a leadoff double in the eighth, when Virginia pushed across the tying run with the help of a Clemson error.

"He came on in the middle of inning, and once he got through that situation, he relaxed a little bit," said Leggett. "He threw strikes, didn't allow any extra baserunners, and we played some good defense behind him in the outfield and helped him out."

Erwin said he knew the Tigers' bullpen needed a break after using six relievers in the series opener.

"It was really big to save some arms for tomorrow," Erwin said. "But I'm expecting (Scott) Firth to throw good tomorrow - he might not need anybody anyways."

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