Clemson Baseball Preview vs. Duke


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Clemson vs. Duke

Clemson (15-13, 6-3 ACC), who is in fifth place in the ACC standings, will play
host to Duke (9-23, 1-11 ACC) this weekend in a three-game series at Doug
Kingsmore Stadium. Game times are 7:15 PM (Friday), 7:00 PM (Saturday), and 2:00
PM (Sunday). All three games will be broadcast live on the radio by Clemson
Tiger Sports Network and can be heard live via the internet at ClemsonTigers.com.
Live stats will also be available on Clemson's website for all three games.



The Series

Clemson and Duke have met 166 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a
105-60-1 lead in the series dating back to the 1904 season. Last year at Duke
and two years ago at Clemson, the Tigers took two of three games, while the Blue
Devils beat Clemson 7-4 in the 2003 ACC Tournament. Prior to 2003, Clemson had
won 10 games in a row in the series.

The Tigers hold a 53-23-1 lead over the Blue Devils all-time in games played at
Clemson and a 34-5 lead in games played at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Clemson also
holds a 81-30-1 advantage in games played in the ACC regular season. Tiger Head
Coach Jack Leggett is 25-10 against Duke as Clemson's head coach, including a
12-3 record at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.



The Starting Pitchers

Duke will start senior righthander Greg Burke (4-4, 5.02 ERA) on the mound
Friday. The Bellmawr, NJ native has made a team-high 12 starts for a total of
61.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 78 hits and 24 walks while striking out 52.

The Tigers will counter with junior righty Kris Harvey (2-0, 0.33) in game one
Friday. The Catawba, NC native has made seven starts for a total of 38.2 innings
pitched. He has allowed 40 hits and 14 walks while striking out 33.

Duke will send out freshman lefty Jimmy Gallagher (0-1, 4.50 ERA) Saturday. The
Venetia, PA native, who also is hitting .213 in 80 at-bats as an outfielder, has
made five relief appearances for a total of 8.0 innings pitched. He has yielded
nine hits and five walks while striking out eight.

The Tigers will start junior lefthander Robert Rohrbaugh (3-1, 3.93 ERA) in game
two. The Littlestown, PA native has made six starts and two relief appearances
for a total of 34.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 36 hits and 17 walks while
striking out 27. In three ACC starts, he is 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA as well.

The Blue Devils will start sophomore righthander Danny Otero (3-7, 4.61 ERA)
Sunday. The Coral Gables, FL native has made 10 starts and one relief appearance
for a total of 56.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 67 hits and seven walks
while striking out 35, good for a 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Clemson will send out junior righty Josh Cribb (2-4, 3.67 ERA) on the mound in
game three. The Lake View, SC is the Tigers' regular Friday starter, but he
pitched 1.1 innings in relief at Georiga on Tuesday, therefore was moved to
Sunday. He has made seven starts and one relief appearance for a total of 41.2
innings pitched. He has yielded 53 hits and 10 walks while striking out 41.



The Blue Devils

Duke, led by sixth-year Head Coach Bill Hillier, enters this weekend's series
with a 9-23 overall record and 1-11 ACC mark. The Blue Devils have not played
since being swept at Wake Forest last weekend. All three games in Winston-Salem
were one-run games. Duke is 0-8 on the road as well.

The Blue Devils are hitting .272 as a team, led by freshman Brett Bartles, who
is hitting .360 with a team-high 20 RBIs. Adam Murray is hitting .358 with 10
doubles, and Eric Baumann leads Duke with three home runs. Duke is also fielding
at a .954 clip.

Duke has a 6.18 team ERA and .309 opponents' batting average. The staff has
struck out 208 against 118 walks in 282.1 innings pitched. Tony Bajoczky has a
team-high three saves.



The Tigers

Clemson enters this weekend's series against Duke with a 15-13 overall record
and 6-3 ACC mark after losing both midweek games against Georgia. The Tigers,
whose last seven losses have been by a combined 10 runs, are 8-4 at home this
season.

Clemson is hitting .290 overall and is led by freshman Taylor Harbin, who is
hitting .377 with 16 doubles, four homers, and 25 RBIs. Herman Demmink is
18-for-35 (.514) in the last nine games to raise his season average to .356.
Kris Harvey leads the club with six homers and 29 RBIs. Clemson is also fielding
at a .974 clip.

The pitching staff has been solid of late, as its ERA has fallen to 3.41 and
opponents' batting average to .258. The staff also has a 2.3 strikeout-to-walk
ratio. Stephen Faris has been a stopper out of the bullpen, as he leads the ACC
with an 0.50 ERA in 36.1 innings pitched. He has allowed just 19 hits and 13
walks while striking out 34.



Tigers #25 in Unofficial RPI

Clemson is #25 in the latest RPI listing at WarrenNolan.com, which includes
games through April 5. The Tigers, who are 15-13, have a top-25 rating thanks to
a rugged schedule, which is the second-toughest in the country.

And Clemson's RPI could be much better. The RPI does not take into account
margin of victory/defeat, nor does it take into account, unlike NCAA basketball,
site. Clemson, who is 10-7 in its last 17 games, has lost those seven games by a
combined 10 runs. Meanwhile, it has won the 10 games by a combined 68 runs. On
the season, Clemson is 3-7 in one-run games, and lost another two-run decision.
The Tigers average margin of defeat this year is just 2.7 runs per game, while
their average margin of victory is 6.3 runs per game.

Clemson has played a remarkable 21 of its 28 games against teams in the top 50
of the RPI. And the Tigers have played 16 of their first 28 games away from
home, including 14 games on opponents' home fields. The Tigers are also 8-5
against top-25 ranked teams, and have lost those five games by a combined eight
runs, while winning the eight games by a combined 42 runs.



Tigers Off to Impressive Start in the ACC

Clemson has a 6-3 ACC, good for fifth place. But the Tigers have already
played North Carolina and Florida State, who are both top-10 teams. The Tigers
also have lost their three ACC games by a combined four runs, while they have
won their six games by a combined 41 runs.

Clemson is 0.01 points behind North Carolina for the lead in ERA in conference
games at 2.38. However, the Tar Heels are allowing 4.1 runs per game, while
Clemson is allowing an ACC-best 2.7 runs per game. The staff has also struck out
81 against only 28 walks, good for a 2.9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Stephen
Faris, who also is the overall ACC leader in ERA, has a conference-best 0.00
ERA, as he has not allowed a run in 11.1 innings pitched. There are two other
Tigers in the top 10 in ERA, including Robert Rohrbaugh (2.33 ERA * 7th) and
Josh Cribb (2.89 ERA * 9th).



Freshmen Up the Middle

Many coaches will say that you must be strong "up the middle" to have a
successful team. Well, Clemson has relied upon three true freshmen at those
three positions this year, and the three have held their own. Taylor Harbin
(2B), Stan Widmann (SS), and Brad Chalk (CF), all top-35 freshmen in the nation
in the preseason according to Baseball America, have shown flashes of
outstanding defense in the field. Harbin has not committed an error in 121
chances at second base. Widmann has committed 10 errors, but his .928 fielding
percentage is respectable for a freshman shortstop. Both Harbin and Widmann have
started every game at their respective positions. And Chalk has made 38 putouts
and two assists without an error, as he had shown tremendous range in
centerfield. The three are big reasons the team has a .974 fielding percentage,
ahead of the single-season school record of .971 (2002).

The trio has also been impressive at the plate. Harbin is hitting .377 with 30
runs scored, 16 doubles, four homers, and 25 RBIs. He leads the ACC in doubles
per game as well. Widmann is hitting .290 after struggling early in the season,
and Chalk is hitting .349. Therefore the three have combined to hit .339
(94-for-277) this year.



Ben Hall

That name instantly brings memories of a Tiger rumbling into the endzone at
South Carolina in 2003, but this Ben Hall has made his presence felt on the
diamond in limited action. The junior second baseman from Ormond Beach, FL is
hitting .412 (7-for-17) with two doubles, a triple, and a home run in 14 games
off the bench. He is 6-for-12 as a pinch-hitter, while the rest of the Tigers
have combined for just nine hits in 49 at-bats in a pinch-hitting role.

Perhaps the highlight of his young Tiger career came in the field in the first
game of a doubleheader at Maryland on March 26. With the bases loaded and two
outs in the 10th inning, Dan Melvin lined what appeared to be the game-winning,
walkoff single to right field. But Hall, all of 5'10", leaped and speared the
liner at second base to keep the Tigers alive. Clemson went on to win 6-4 in 13
innings. The win was a landmark one, as it was Head Coach Jack Leggett's 900th
of his career. Then in the second game of the doubleheader, he came off the
bench and hit two doubles late in Clemson's 12-0 victory.



Bulldogs Sweep Tigers in Midweek Series

Despite being out-hit in both games, Georgia defeated Clemson twice in a
home-and-home, midweek series from April 5-6. Clemson had 23 hits in the series
to Georgia's 15, but the Tigers left 17 runners on base to the Bulldogs' 11.

In game one, Jason Jacobs' two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning
propelled Georgia to an 11-10 win over Clemson at Foley Field on April 5. The
Tigers, who out-hit the Bulldogs 17-10, ended the game with pinch-hitter Doug
Hogan lining out to the right fielder with the bases loaded in the ninth inning.
Tiger pitchers walked nine batters, three more than the previous season high.
Taylor Harbin and Andy D'Alessio each had three hits apiece, while Harbin added
two more doubles. Clemson hit six doubles in all, but Georgia answered the
Tigers' scoring innings in the third, fifth, seventh, and eighth innings with at
least as many runs as Clemson scored. The Tigers had a 5-0 lead, but the
Bulldogs rallied to hand Clemson its first loss in 13 games when scoring at
least six runs in 2005.

In game two, Georgia scored four runs in the first four innings and held off
Clemson for a 4-1 win on April 6. Jonathan Wyatt had two hits and two RBIs, and
robbed Kris Harvey of a two-run home run with a leaping catch in left field.
Lefthander Mickey Westphal pitched 7.0 scoreless innings of four-hit ball to
earn the win, while Stephen Faris pitched the first complete game of his career
and by a Tiger in 2005. He allowed just five hits and three walks while striking
out eight, but three of his four runs allowed were unearned thanks to his costly
throwing error in the fourth inning. The Tigers out-hit the Bulldogs 6-5, but
left seven on base to Georgia's three. Stan Widmann led the Tigers with two hits
and the lone RBI. Andy D'Alessio, the potential tying run, struck out on a
full-count pitch up and out of the zone to end the game. It was the first
Bulldog win at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in 11 tries against the Tigers under Head
Coach Jack Leggett.

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