Down for the cause

CLEMSON - In whatever role he's been asked to fill, Scott Firth has been solid over the last four seasons.

Weekend starter, spot starter, long reliever, middle reliever, set-up man and closer, Firth has done just about everything at Clemson. He's 17-6 with seven saves and a 2.74 ERA in 74 appearances [17 starts] during his Clemson career. In 190 2/3 innings of work, he has 145 strikeouts and 88 walks.

This season, his final as a Tiger, Firth is 6-4 with four saves and a 2.56 ERA.

He'll been in Durham this week for his final ACC Tournament. Before leaving on Monday, Firth spoke with reporters about this season and the postseason, which kicks off on Wednesday night.

Do you think y'all need to win a game or two to host a Regional? Or are you even worried about that?
Firth: Yeah, I would say that I don't think we're too worried about that. Our focus on every game is to go out there and win. There's really no plan B at this point. We'll just stick with our strategy. As long as we execute, we'll have a chance to win. We'll just go out there and play.

With all these underclassmen, did you guys see yourself at this position at the beginning of the year?
Firth: That's kind of an interesting question. I think we knew had the talent, maybe, to be in this type of position, maybe to be able to host a Regional…there are definitely a lot of young guys on our team. From the very little that I did hear about predictions and whatever before the season, not many people were too high on us, because of how young we were and how the guys that were returning from last year's team had struggled a little bit.

I think it was obvious, from the beginning, that we had the talent to succeed and to really beat anybody, if we could put it all together. That's been a big testament to our team, in terms of character and mental toughness -- being able to let go of all that stuff and just go out there and play your game. We know that we're talented enough. If we just go out there and stay within our self and do what we do, that's enough.

All eight teams are top 22 in the last RPI that came out. Do you look at this as an opportunity to go prove yourselves?
Firth: Absolutely. We've known the whole year that the ACC has proven again to be one of the best conferences in the country for baseball. That's the best part about playing in the ACC, playing at a school like Clemson or any of these other teams that are going to be in the tournament. It's an opportunity to play against the best every weekend. I know that's what I was interested in about Clemson and the ACC.

If I thought I was the best, the only way to see is to go out there and prove it every week. In the ACC, you get a chance to do that. This weekend, we'll certainly get a chance to play some of the best teams in the country. We think that we're definitely up there as one of the best, if not the best in the field.

You've got to be proud that the pitchers played such a big part this season, right?
Firth: I think it's more, I don't know, maybe we just had more of a flair for the dramatic, or something like that. Like to keep things interesting, we always keep the fans in mind. They like to see entertaining games.

I don't know, it comes back to our mentality as a pitching staff and as a team -- one pitch at a time, one play at a time. That's really the easiest way to have a season like this, to where it's been pretty consistent. On the pitching side of the ball, to hold your ERA under three, that means you're doing something right. It's hard to find a Clemson pitcher with an ERA in the fours. That just speaks to the mentality and consistency of executing that next pitch and keeping things simple. That's what allows you to be so consistent.

Your team ERA is one of the best at Clemson in 20 years. Do y'all realize that you're having that kind of a year?
Firth: Honestly, I don't think so. I've never been a really huge stat guy. I don't really follow my own stats or the team's stats too much. We have our own standard. If we're playing up to that, it's a good day, regardless of what the stats may or may not say. That's how we look at it. Having a good ERA is one thing, but pitching up to our standard is another thing. That is, really, what we're trying to do.

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