Baseball: Tigers' 2014 pitching staff looks well-armed in all phases

Jack Leggett impressed by both veterans and newcomers during recently-completed fall drills

Clemson's Zack Erwin throws a pitch during the Tigers' NCAA Regional game against Liberty at Carolina Stadium in Columbia on Friday.

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson's Zack Erwin throws a pitch during the Tigers' NCAA Regional game against Liberty at Carolina Stadium in Columbia on Friday.

As far as his pitching staff is concerned, Clemson baseball Coach Jack Leggett has seen enough during the fall training season to be convinced that everyone on the roster has a chance to contribute.

That accords with his view of the team, generally, and reflects a situation pitching-wise where there’s a good balance between left-handed and right-handed talent, and the spectrum of options ranges between proven veterans like Daniel Gossett, Matt Campbell, and Matthew Crownover, and highly-regarded freshmen like Alex Bostic and Drew Moyer.

With respect to lefties, the picture begins with sophomores Crownover and Zack Erwin, and is rounded out with the addition of newcomers Bostic and Hunter Hill. Crownover – who has excellent control - was named a Freshman All-American last year, and graduated to the weekend rotation after being a midweek starter over the first half of the season. He finished with a 7-3 record and a team-leading ERA of 2.19 in 15 appearances.

“Matthew Crownover is back and Zack Erwin is back, and they’re two good left-handed pitchers for us,” said Leggett. “Also, there’s the addition of Alex Bostic and Hunter Hill, and (redshirt sophomore) Kyle Bailey is hopefully coming along, and can help us a little bit in a relief role, though we’ll see how that goes. But Crownover and Erwin are guys I think you can count on.”

Among the right-handers, Gossett returns as a junior after establishing himself last year as the season-long Friday starter and the staff’s ace. In his first two seasons, Gossett is 16-7 with a 3.34 ERA.

“Daniel Gossett has been a mainstay for us, and will pitch on the weekend,” said Leggett. “Then (redshirt junior) Kevin Pohle is back from an injury, and he’s looking better each time out. Clate Schmidt had a good year for us at times last year as a freshman. Wales Toney, the freshman from Anderson who redshirted last year, is getting better and better all the time, and with every outing has shown a big improvement over where he was last year at this time.”

The stable of right-handers also includes a transfer who’s had to wait to get out on the field, a couple of sophomores from the Charlotte area, and a redshirt freshman who’s continuing to develop.

“We have another kid – Jake Long, who’s also from over here in Anderson – who was not eligible last year because he transferred in,” said Leggett. “Jake’s going to be really good for us. We missed him last year, and wished he’d been eligible for us. But he’ll be ready to go for us.

“Brody Koerner and Jackson Campana are two kids from up in the Charlotte area that have a chance to help us. Brody showed some good moments last year, and Jackson, I think, is starting to grow-up. Garrett Lovorn is someone we need to get a little bit more from, and he just needs to get a little bit more consistent with what he does every time out.”

In the bullpen, the battle-tested veteran of the staff is Campbell, a right-handed senior who was one of the Tigers’ principal closers last season. In his first three seasons and 76.2 innings pitched, Campbell has made 53 relief appearances and has a 3-3 record with 11 saves and a 3.52 ERA.

“Matt Campbell and (junior) Kyle Schnell are two guys in relief for us who have done a really good job, so we’re expecting to have good years out of them,” said Leggett. “Clay Bates is a redshirt junior and looks a year-better and a year-stronger, so hopefully he can help us from the side, as well.

“And then the freshmen – Tucker Burgess and Drew Moyer – will have opportunities to help us, and we’ll just have to see how they come along, and develop, and how much they improve down the road.”

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