Like last year, Clemson baseball peaking at right time


by - Senior Writer -
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Clemson shortstop Brad Miller leads the ACC in hitting at a .429.

CLEMSON – The 15th-ranked Clemson baseball team is once again playing with a lot of confidence, a confidence they will need this weekend as they travel to Tallahassee to take on the 4th-ranked Florida St. Seminoles in a three-game set with ACC Atlantic Division title implications.

The Tigers sit at 37-18 overall, with a 15-12 mark in the ACC, while the Seminoles 39-13 overall and 18-9 in conference play. In 2010, the Tigers needed three wins over Florida St. to win the Atlantic, and Clemson swept the Seminoles by scores of 9-8, 8-4, and 8-3 in front of sold-out crowds at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

Junior Will LambWill Lamb
Outfielder
#30 6-6, 175
Seaford, VA

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says the Tigers, who have won 23 of their last 27 games, are getting hot at just the right time.

“This is eerily similar to last year, but we are peaking at just the right time,” Lamb said after Clemson’s 19-0 win over Davidson on Tuesday. “I feel like we are playing to the best of our ability right now. That is a fun atmosphere to play, and their fans are rowdy. But nothing is impossible for us. We have done it before and we can do it again.”

Clemson shortstop Brad MillerBrad Miller
Infielder
#13 6-1, 185
Windermere, FL

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leads the ACC in hitting at a .429 clip [Georgia Tech’s Kyle Wren is a distant second at .374] and he says the Tigers are not only looking at winning a division title, they want to reach 40 wins in order to have a better shot at hosting an NCAA Regional.

“This is where we want to be, and we are going to go down there trying to win every game,” Miller said. “We don’t care where we play or who we play; we want to win because every win is big right now. We want to bring a regional back here, and we know there is still a lot of work to be done and we need to take care of business. We know FSU is always one of the best teams in the country, and they have a great place to play. We are expecting to face one of the best teams we have faced all season, but we are ready for the challenge.”

In the first game on Thursday, Florida State will start junior lefthander Sean Gilmartin (9-1, 1.25 ERA). The Moorpark, CA native has made 13 starts and one relief appearance for a total of 93.1 innings pitched.  He has allowed 60 hits (.181 opponents’ batting average) and 15 walks with 107 strikeouts.

The Tigers will counter with sophomore righty Dominic LeoneDominic Leone
RH Pitcher
#6 5-11, 185
Norwich, CT

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(5-1, 3.06 ERA). The Norwich, CT native has made nine starts and three relief appearances for a total of 53.0 innings pitched.  He has allowed 36 hits (.193 opponents’ batting average) and 21 walks with 60 strikeouts.

“They are starting a pitcher on Thursday who is tough,” Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said. “Dominic has to be really sharp for us to have a chance. We have to pitch extremely well this weekend, and we have to figure out a way to score runs off of their pitching. We are playing better the last 27 games than we played earlier, but now we have everybody back healthy. We are just going to keep playing hard down the stretch and play like we are capable of playing.”

Senior outfielder Chris EppsChris Epps
Outfielder
#26 6-1, 195
Stone Mountain, GA

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says series like the one this weekend are what make college baseball so special.

“This is what we play the game for,” Epps said. “This is the same situation as last year, but now we have to go down there and battle with them. I feel like in order to host here, we need to win out. That is our mindset. It’s a tough situation to have to go down there and play, but this is fun.”




Clemson vs. Florida State Notes

Clemson (37-16, 15-12 ACC), ranked as high as #15 in the nation, will travel to Tallahassee, FL to take on #4 Florida State (39-13, 18-9 ACC) in a three-game series at Dick Howser Stadium from Thursday to Saturday to close the regular season. Game times are 6:00 PM (Thursday), 6:00 PM (Friday), and 1:00 PM (Saturday).

Saturday’s game will be televised live by Regional Sports Network. All three games will be broadcast live on the radio by Clemson Tiger Sports Network. Live stats will be available at ClemsonTigers.com for all three games as well.

The Series

Clemson and Florida State have met 117 times on the diamond, with the Seminoles holding a 63-53-1 lead in the series dating back to 1958.

The two teams last met in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on the final weekend of the regular season in 2010. The Tigers swept the Seminoles by scores of 9-8, 8-4, and 8-3. Two years ago at Dick Howser Stadium, the Seminoles won two of three games by scores of 5-2 and 7-4. The Tigers won the middle game 8-7 in 11 innings.

The Seminoles hold a 34-13-1 lead in games played at Florida State, while the Tigers own a 29-28 advantage in ACC regular-season games. Jack Leggett has a 29-36 record against Florida State as Clemson’s head coach, including a 7-17 mark at Dick Howser Stadium. All 65 of Leggett’s games coached against Florida State have been against a top-25 ranked Seminole team.

The Starting Pitchers

In game-one, Florida State will start junior lefthander Sean Gilmartin (9-1, 1.25 ERA) on the mound. The Moorpark, CA native has made 13 starts and one relief appearance for a total of 93.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 60 hits (.181 opponents’ batting average) and 15 walks with 107 strikeouts.

The Tigers will counter with sophomore righty Dominic Leone (5-1, 3.06 ERA) on Thursday. The Norwich, CT native has made nine starts and three relief appearances for a total of 53.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 36 hits (.193 opponents’ batting average) and 21 walks with 60 strikeouts.

The Seminoles’ starting pitcher for game-two on Friday has yet to be determined.

Clemson will start graduate righthander Justin Sarratt (6-1, 1.95 ERA) on Friday. The Gaffney, SC native has made 10 starts and five relief appearances for a total of 64.2 innings pitched. He has given up 53 hits (.219 opponents’ batting average) and eight walks with 55 strikeouts.

In game-three, Florida State will start senior righthander Mike McGee (2-2, 4.39 ERA) on the mound. The Port Saint Lucie, FL native has made 11 relief appearances and three starts for a total of 26.2 innings pitched. He has yielded 23 hits (.223 opponents’ batting average) and 18 walks with 31 strikeouts.

The Tigers will counter with sophomore righthander Jonathan Meyer (5-2, 2.89 ERA) on Saturday. The San Diego, CA native has made 16 relief appearances and five starts for a total of 62.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 48 hits (.212 opponents’ batting average) and 15 walks with 55 strikeouts.

The Seminoles

Florida State, led by 32nd-year Head Coach Mike Martin and ranked as high as #4 in the nation, enters the series against #15 Clemson with a 39-13 overall record and 18-9 ACC mark after winning two of three games at N.C. State last weekend. The Seminoles, who are 15-3 in their last 18 games, are 24-5 at home in 2011.

Florida State is averaging 7.5 runs per game and hitting .294 with a .451 slugging percentage and .414 on-base percentage thanks to a national-best 319 walks and 68 hit-by-pitches against 398 strikeouts. The team has also totaled 125 doubles, seven triples, 48 home runs, and 70 stolen bases in 89 attempts.

James Ramsey leads the team with a .354 batting average along with 17 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 51 RBIs, and nine steals. Mike McGee is hitting .339 with 12 doubles, nine homers, and 48 RBIs, while Devon Travis is batting .339 with 21 doubles, six home runs, and 32 RBIs. Jayce Boyd is hitting .330 with 11 doubles, four triples, four homers, 50 RBIs, and nine stolen bases.

The pitching staff has a 3.38 ERA and .238 opponents’ batting average along with 399 strikeouts against 185 walks in 469.0 innings pitched. Senior righthander Daniel Bennett has a team-high 11 saves along with a 3-1 record, 2.03 ERA, .219 opponents’ batting average, and 38 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched over 32 relief appearances. Florida State, who has allowed 25 steals in 44 attempts, is fielding at a .973 clip as well.

The Tigers

Clemson, ranked as high as #15 in the nation, enters the series at #4 Florida State with a 37-16 overall record and 15-12 ACC mark after defeating Davidson 19-0 at home on Tuesday night. The Tigers, who have won 23 of their last 27 games, sport a 9-7 record on opponents’ home fields in 2011.

The Tigers are averaging 7.2 runs per game and hitting .321 with a .452 slugging percentage and .407 on-base percentage thanks to 250 walks and 40 hit-by-pitches against 327 strikeouts. Clemson has also totaled 108 doubles, 15 triples, 33 homers, and 94 stolen bases in 123 attempts.

Brad Miller is hitting an ACC-best .429 with a .531 on-base percentage and 20 steals. Phil Pohl is batting .342 with 17 doubles, four homers, and 29 RBIs. Will Lamb has hit safely in 38 of his last 41 games and is batting .344 on the season. He has a hit in six consecutive at-bats and has reached base via a hit or walk in eight straight plate appearances. John Hinson has a .328 batting average, six homers, 31 RBIs, and a team-high 21 stolen bases. Richie Shaffer leads the team in homers (8) and runs (55) as well.

The pitching staff has a 3.01 ERA and .228 opponents’ batting average in 469.2 innings pitched. The staff has allowed 152 walks against 416 strikeouts, good for a 2.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Junior righthander Scott Weismann has a team-high four saves and 45 strikeouts against 14 walks in 18 appearances (eight starts). The Tigers are fielding at a .969 clip as well.

Four Tigers hail from the state of Florida, Dominic Attanasio (Windermere), Joe Costigan (Naples), Miller (Windermere), and Jeff Schaus (Naples).

Miller Aiming For .400 & Beyond

Brad Miller leads the ACC in batting average (.429) by a wide margin, a remarkable feat considering the depth and quality of teams in the conference. He is aiming to become the first Tiger to bat .400 or better since 2002, when Khalil Greene hit .470 on his way to earning national player-of-the-year honors. In fact, no Tiger has hit .380 or better since 2002. Greene is the only Tiger to hit .400 or better in a season since 1994, when Shane Monahan had a .415 batting average.

Miller has shown steady improvement in each of his two seasons after his freshman campaign. After hitting .273 in his first season in 2009, he raised his batting average 84 points to .357 as a sophomore in 2010. In 2011, he is batting .429, meaning he has raised his batting average 72 points from a season ago and 156 points from his freshman year.

Defensively, Miller has been solid after a shaky season in the field in 2010. In 2011, the Windermere, FL native has committed just 10 errors at shortstop, good for a .949 fielding percentage.

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