Mitchell Mows Down Panthers

Mitchell Mows Down Panthers

CLEMSON – D.J. Mitchell began the season as the veteran right fielder. He could very well end it as one of the more important pitchers on the Clemson baseball team.

For the second time in four games, Mitchell was stellar on the mound and this time it led to Clemson getting the 11-3 victory over High Point on a wild-weather Wednesday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The game was called in the bottom of the sixth due to fog.

Mitchell was forced into the game in an emergency situation in the top of the third when starter Josh Thrailkill was forced to the bench following a line drive off his left shin. All Mitchell did was toss four innings of three-hit ball and allowed only one run to get his first-career win.

"It's been a long process," Mitchell said of his convergence from an everyday outfielder to that as a part-time pitcher, as well. "I just tried to come in and throw strikes and things happened. I just tried to let them hit the ball to my fielders."

With the entire pitching situation still in doubt, Tigers head coach Jack Leggett said Mitchell is becoming more and more valuable.

In six innings of work this year, Mitchell has allowed just four hits and one run, while striking out seven.

There's a real chance Mitchell will become a midweek starter.

"There's a chance of everything," Leggett said. "He's probably going to help the team as a pitcher more than anything."

Because of the ankle injury to starting pitcher David Kopp, Leggett said Mitchell could get the start Sunday against Pacific. P.J. Zocchi will get the start Friday and Ryan Hinson will go on Saturday.

Wednesday's game was also a breakout game for the Clemson offense, which struggled Saturday and Sunday against George Mason.

Against the Panthers (2-5), Clemson pounded out 12 hits, two of which were home runs. Catcher Doug Hogan hit his third homer of the season with a two-run shot in the fifth and freshman designated hitter Ben Paulsen his a two-run blast in the third. It was the first dinger of his career.

The other hitting star for the No. 2 Tigers (3-1) was senior third baseman Marquez Smith, who went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.

"We just tried to flush the whole weekend," Smith said. "It felt good. Everything played out pretty well tonight."

Thrailkill, a freshman making his first-career start, had to wait more than three hours to throw that first pitch. The game was originally slated to start at 4 p.m., but lightning and then rain delayed the start to 7:36 p.m.

Then in the top of the third, Robby Kuzdale started the inning off with a shot right up the middle that caught the left shin square on Thrailkill, who still tried to make the play at first, but threw the ball down the right field line and Kuzdale ended up at third.

"He'll remember this day for a long time," Leggett said of Thrailkill.

Thrailkill was helped off the field and Mitchell came in with no outs and a runner on third. Considering Clemson was already trailing 2-0, the situation was not looking good.

But Hogan was able to pickoff Kuzdale at third and High Point failed to score. The spirit of the Tigers was lifted as they scored six runs in the bottom of the inning to grab the lead for good.

"We've just got to get ourselves in a rhythm and figure out our pitching," Leggett said.

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