Big weekend on tap: Tigers and Seminoles, warm weather, and sunshine
|Friday, May 4, 2018, 6:03 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Warm weather, bright sunshine, and tournament-caliber baseball are all on tap for this weekend at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. It's also Clemson versus Florida St.
No. 15 Florida State (31-14, 13-10 ACC) makes the trek to the upstate for a three-game series against No. 9 Clemson (34-11, 17-7) in a pivotal ACC Atlantic Division matchup. Saturday’s and Sunday’s games will stream on the ACC Network Extra, while Monday’s series finale will air nationally at ESPN2.
The Seminoles won the series last season against the No. 4 Tigers, winning the final two games in Tallahassee.
With just three weekends remaining in the regular season, the Seminoles and Tigers are both fighting for a national seed in the NCAA Tournament and a chance to host a regional. Clemson is ranked No. 10 in the RPI; FSU is just behind at No. 11.
Clemson has won eight in a row and swept ACC series each of the last two weekends before taking the week off for exams. Head coach Monte Lee said that while the team wanted to keep playing a break was needed for many reasons.
“Obviously from an academic perspective (exam week) is the top priority for these guys and they’ve been working so hard on the baseball side of things,” Lee said. “It’s good for them to get a break from baseball and be able to focus on their academics.
“It’s also good for us because we needed some time with a number of guys to try to recover some of the nagging injuries that we have. So it’s good to try to get our guys some recovery time and also our pitchers.”
Clemson swept series against Wake Forest and Virginia – both on the road – sweeps that taxed the pitching staff. The team practiced Thursday and Friday in getting ready for the series against the Seminoles.
“If you look at the last two weekends we’ve really used our bullpen a lot,” Lee said. “So, a few days off to be able to give those guys time to put the ball down and just let their arms recover a little bit is a good thing. Now we’ve only got two days. We have two practice days to get ready for one of the best programs in the country in Florida State, so that’s probably the part that is the toughest for me as a coach. We’ve got to get a lot done in the next two days in preparation for a great ball club.”
The Tigers’ resurgence has them in the conversation for a national seed and in the fight for the top seed heading into the ACC Tournament, but Lee said the team is focused solely on the Seminoles.
“This weekend is another weekend,” Lee said. “I don’t think we need to start talking about big weekends and all that stuff. With our team, we don’t do that, and if you start talking about all of those things and putting more emphasis on one weekend over another, I think that puts pressure on your ball club.
“I think one of the reasons we’ve been playing pretty good baseball is because we’ve been pretty loose and playing pressure-free baseball. Our guys have been very poised, calm, and relaxed in the dugout. We’ve had good energy, and we want to stay as consistent with that as we possibly can right now and not put any more of an emphasis on this weekend.”
*Interesting note: FSU head coach Mike Martin tied the late Augie Garrido for the most wins in college baseball history with FSU’s two wins against Miami last weekend. Martin is 1,975-708-4 over 39 seasons at Florida State. Martin’s .736 career winning percentage is the best among active coaches.
Martin and Lee (.668) are ranked first and 10th, respectively, for the best winning percentage among active head coaches.
Lee said that he speaks with Martin on a regular basis and that Martin is on the Mount Rushmore of college baseball coaches.
"He's the best baseball coach, in my opinion," Lee said of Martin."There are a few guys that are on that Mt. Rushmore of college baseball, so to speak. You have Augie Garrido, God bless his soul. You have Skip Bertman (LSU) and then you have Rod Dedeaux (USC) and Mike Martin has to be on that list. Mike Martin has 38 consecutive 40-win seasons and we know that he is going to get there again this year. History tells you that he is going to do it. He's the best of the best and he's going to go down as the best college coach in the history of the game. I have a lot of respect for him and have a great relationship with him. I talk to him on a fairly regular basis."