ACC Baseball Tourney Preview


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON, SC -- The second-seeded Clemson Tigers head north to Charlotte today to take on Virginia in the first round of The Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 in Knights Stadium, with Tiger right-hander Scott Berney facing Cavaliers ace Kevin Shrout.


Fresh off a three-game series in Charlottesville, Clemson (42-14) and Virginia (24-29-1) should be quite familiar with one another. The Tigers took two of three from the Cavaliers last weekend, pounding out a combined 29 runs in games one and three. Virginia shut out the Tigers to win game 2, 11-0.

While Clemson came away with the series edge, Virginia batters left Tiger Head Coach Jack Leggett on edge heading into Wednesday’s game.

“Virginia is a good baseball team. They hit the ball about as well as anybody we saw all year long, and that concerns me. We’re going to have to pitch very well and play very good defense,” Leggett said.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us; there’s no question. There’s not going to be anything easy about it at all because they have nothing to lose and we’ve got a lot on it. We’ll have to be on our toes to beat them.”

Clemson is lead by sophomore third baseman Khalil Greene, who carries a 14-game hitting streak into tournament play and leads the Tigers with .363 batting average. Leadoff hitter Casey Stone has been hot of late, batting .613 over his last eight games and driving in eleven runs.


NOTES

- The winner of Wednesday’s game advances to face the Florida State- N.C. State winner Thursday at 9:30.

- Look for the scores to balloon this week in the batter-friendly Knights Stadium. The dimensions run from 325’ at the poles to 400’ in centerfield, with power-alleys of only 365’. Such tight confines coupled with the explosiveness of aluminum bats could make life miserable for pitchers.


“It’s a little-bit small dimensions so I think there will be some high-scoring games before it’s all over. I’d prefer to play on a little bigger field but it’s a nice stadium with a great atmosphere,” Leggett said.


- Leggett said Tuesday that the Tigers will start either Ryan Mottl (7-3, 3.72 ERA) or Jarrod Schmidt (8-0, 3.27 ERA) in Clemson’s second-round game.

- Clemson leads the all-time series with Virginia 88-25, with the Tigers taking eight of eleven games from the Cavaliers in ACC Tournament games.

- Freshman first baseman and designated hitter Michael Johnson will remain out of action this week. Johnson broke his hand on April 26 after being hit by a pitch against Western Carolina. He is expected to begin light hitting later this week and return to limited action in time for The NCAA Tournament Regional on May 26. Infielder Jeff Baker is probable after suffering from severe swelling in his left-calf after being hit by a foul ball.

- While the ACC Tournament is always important, Leggett says that the Tigers have their eyes on a much bigger prize.

“You want to play good baseball going into the (NCAA Tournament) regional so you want to play well in the ACC Tournament. With programs like ourselves, the picture is much bigger and the scope is much wider. You’re looking to play for the national championship and the ACC is one of those tournaments on the way there.”

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