Clemson Baseball NCAA Regional Preview
Tigers #1 Seed in Clemson Regional
Clemson (40-19), ranked as high as #14 in the nation, is the #1 seed in the Clemson (SC) Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium from May 29 to June 1. Clemson is joined by #2-seed Alabama (37-19), #3-seed Oklahoma State (32-22), and #4-seed Tennessee Tech (30-22-1). All Clemson Regional games will be televised live by CSS.
The first game of the tourney will pit Alabama against Oklahoma State on Friday at 3:00 PM. The Tigers will then open up against Tennessee Tech on Friday at 7:00 PM. Clemson will be the designated home team. The two losers will play Saturday at 3:00 PM, while the two winners will play Saturday at 7:00 PM. The winner of the second game Saturday will play in the championship round on Sunday at 7:00 PM, while the loser of the second game Saturday will play the winner of the first game Saturday at 3:00 PM on Sunday. If the unbeaten team loses Sunday, the same two teams will play a game on Monday at 7:00 PM to determine the regional champion.
The winner of the Clemson Regional will play the winner of the Tempe (AZ) Regional from June 5-8. The four teams in that regional are #1-seed Arizona State, #2-seed Oral Roberts, #3-seed Cal Poly, and #4-seed Kent State.
Clemson’s NCAA Tournament History
The 2009 season marks Clemson’s 34th trip to an NCAA Regional dating back to 1947. That year, Clemson actually advanced to the Final Eight of the NCAA Tournament, but it is not considered a College World Series season because only two teams went to the CWS in those days.
Clemson won the 1947 District III Tournament in Charlotte by coming through the losers’ bracket. The Tigers, coached by Randy Hinson, lost in the first round to Alabama 8-2, then came back with a win over Auburn and two wins over Alabama to advance. Clemson’s season ended when Yale, led by future President George H.W. Bush, defeated the Tigers in New Haven, CT by a score of 7-3. Bush was 1-for-3 as the starting first baseman.
Clemson made its first trip to Omaha and the College World Series in 1958 when the Tigers again came through the losers’ bracket. After losing to Florida in the first round, Clemson came back to defeat George Washington, Florida State, and Florida twice to advance under first year Head Coach Bill Wilhelm. Clemson defeated Florida 15-14 and 3-1 on June 9 to advance. Harold Stowe struck out 17 in that second game on June 9, and that is still a Clemson single-game record for strikeouts in an NCAA Tournament game.
The Tigers advanced to Omaha in 1959, this time with three easy wins; one over Georgia Tech and two over Florida State. One of the wins over the Seminoles was a 24-2 victory at Gastonia, NC. That tally is still tied for the most runs scored by Clemson in an NCAA Tourney game.
The Tigers did not advance to Omaha again until 1976. In fact, Clemson made just one NCAA Tournament appearance between 1960 and 1974. That was in 1967 when Clemson reached the Regional Championship, but lost to Auburn 6-5.
Clemson made it to Omaha three out of five years between 1976-80. Clemson won a regional in Columbia, SC in 1976 with three straight wins, then came through the losers’ bracket in Miami (FL) in 1977 to advance to Omaha. The 1980 season was the first year Clemson played host to a regional, as Clemson swept three games by scoring 45 runs, including 17 in a 17-12 win over South Carolina.
Clemson has been to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1987 except one (2008). The Tigers have been to the NCAA Tournament 22 of the last 23 years. Clemson also made College World Series trips in 1991, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, and 2006.
Overall, Clemson has been to a regional in 34 seasons, sixth-most all-time. Clemson’s all-time record in NCAA play is 97-70, a 58.1 winning percentage.
Clemson is 52-30 (.634) under Head Coach Jack Leggett in NCAA Tournament play, including a 32-5 record (.865) in home NCAA Tourney games. Leggett has taken Clemson to a regional 15 times in the 16 years he has been Clemson’s head coach, and the Tigers have advanced to the College World Series five times. Leggett has also taken Clemson to a super regional seven of the first 10 years that format has been in existence.
Tigers Earn 34th NCAA Tournament Bid
Clemson will play in its 34th all-time NCAA Regional when it hosts the Clemson Regional from May 29 to June 1 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The 34 appearances are sixth-most in NCAA history, trailing only Texas (53), Florida State (47), Miami (FL) (38), Oklahoma State (37), and Southern California (36). Since Oklahoma State is in the Clemson Regional, the regional boasts two of the top-six schools in terms of NCAA Tournament appearances.
Scouting #1-Seed Clemson
First-seed and #14-ranked Clemson (40-19) enters the NCAA Tournament coming off one win in three games in the ACC Tournament at Durham, NC. Clemson was 19-11 during the ACC regular season, finishing in third place in the ACC standings. Clemson is making its 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 23 years and 34th overall, sixth-most in the nation.
The Tigers, who are 27-8 at home, are led by 16th-year Head Coach Jack Leggett. His 720 wins are seventh-most in college baseball during his tenure. The Tigers are also 8-9 against top-25 ranked teams in 2009, including 6-6 against top-five ranked teams.
The team is hitting .301 with a .452 slugging percentage and .390 on-base percentage. Clemson, who has 288 walks against just 361 strikeouts, has also stolen 76 bases in 99 attempts.
Ben Paulsen is hitting a team-best .368 with 16 doubles, four triples, 11 homers, and 55 RBIs. Wilson Boyd is riding a current 10-game hitting streak and is hitting .564 in the last 10 games. Overall, Boyd is batting .348 with a team-high .436 on-base percentage. First-Team All-ACC outfielder Jeff Schaus is hitting .329 with 11 home runs, 43 RBIs, and 38 walks against only 22 strikeouts. Kyle Parker has added a team-high 12 homers and 50 RBIs.
The pitching staff has a 3.68 ERA and .253 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 182 walks against 494 strikeouts, good for a 2.7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Senior righthander Trey Delk (4-1, 2.98 ERA) is scheduled to start against the Golden Eagles on Friday night. The Elgin, SC native has made 10 starts for a total of 45.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 47 hits (.264 opponents’ batting average) and 19 walks with 38 strikeouts. Ryan Hinson has made a team-high 25 appearances and has 45 strikeouts in 36.0 innings pitched, while Tomas Cruz and Matt Vaughn are tied for the team-lead with four saves apiece. Clemson is fielding at a .967 clip as well.
Scouting #2-Seed Alabama
Second-seed and #14-ranked Alabama (48-11) enters the Clemson Regional after going 0-2 in the SEC Tournament at Hoover, AL last weekend. Alabama, who is 10-10 on opponents’ home fields and 1-3 in neutral-site games, had an 18-11 record during its conference regular season. The 2009 season marks the 17th time in school history Alabama has played in an NCAA Tournament.
Alabama is led by 15th-year Head Coach Jim Wells. After starting their SEC slate with a 3-6 record in its first nine games, Alabama was 15-5 in its last 20 SEC regular-season games.
Alabama is hitting .331 with a .571 slugging percentage and .416 on-base percentage. Alabama, who is fielding at a .971 clip, has also totaled 136 doubles, 14 triples, 107 home runs, and is averaging 8.9 runs per game along with 72 hit-by-pitches and 60 stolen bases in 80 attempts. Alabama is fourth in the nation in home runs and 15th in the nation in scoring.
Kent Matthes is hitting a team-high .365 with 28 home runs, 81 RBIs, a .883 slugging percentage, and 13 steals in 15 attempts. He is a candidate for national player-of-the-year in is tied for the national lead in home runs. Taylor Dugas is batting .354 with 19 doubles and 13 steals, while Ross Wilson is hitting .349 with nine home runs and 46 RBIs. Brandon May has added 12 homers and 68 RBIs along with a .343 batting average.
The pitching staff has a 5.02 ERA and .275 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 174 walks against 472 strikeouts, good for a 2.7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Senior righty Austin Hyatt is the ace of the staff and has an 8-2 record and 3.14 ERA. He also has 86 strikeouts against only 13 walks in 100.1 innings piotched over 14 starts. Five players have two saves apiece, including Nathan sophomore righthander Nathan Kilcrease, who has a 4.14 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 45.2 innings pitched. He has also yet to allow a home run.
Clemson and Alabama have met 23 times on the diamond, with the Crimson Tide holding a 12-11 lead in the series dating back to 1919. The two teams last met in the 1996 College World Series. The Tigers eliminated the Crimson Tide with a thrilling 14-13 victory in one of the most memorable games in Clemson baseball history. Coincidentally, the Tigers were coming off an 8-5 win over Oklahoma State, the #3 seed in the 2009 Clemson Regional, two days earlier in Omaha. Both those meetings were the last time the Tigers faced Oklahoma State and Alabama, respectively.
In 1995, Alabama visited Doug Kingsmore Stadium to play in the NCAA East Regional. The Tigers downed the Crimson Tide 7-4 in the championship game to advance to Omaha. Clemson and Alabama also met three times during the 1947 NCAA Southern Playoffs, as the Tigers won two of three matchups to advance to the NCAA Eastern Finals, and once during the 1950 NCAA Tournament.
Clemson is 11-12 against the Crimson Tide in games played at Clemson and 3-3 against Alabama at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers also own a 4-2 record against the Crimson Tide in NCAA Tournament games and 2-0 record under Head Coach Jack Leggett.
The potential matchup in the regional between Clemson and Alabama would be a fitting end to the school year. The Tigers opened their football season against Alabama in the Georgia Dome, then the men’s basketball team faced the Crimson Tide on the hardwood in Littlejohn Coliseum in January. The Tigers also named former assistant coach Dabo Swinney head coach after the regular season and hired Kevin Steele as their defensive coordinator. Swinney was a walk-on wide receiver at Alabama and later served as an assistant, while Steele spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons as defensive coordinator at Alabama.
Scouting #3-Seed Oklahoma State
Third-seed Oklahoma State (32-22) enters the Clemson Regional after going 2-1 at Texas Tech to close the regular season. The Cowboys, who are 8-10 on opponents’ home fields and 5-3 in neutral-site games, had a 9-16 record during the Big 12 conference regular season. The 2009 season marks the 37th time in school history Oklahoma State has played in an NCAA Tournament, fourth-most in the nation.
Oklahoma State is led by sixth-year Head Coach Frank Anderson. Among the Cowboys’ season highlights include a 30-3 win over Western Illinois in the first game of a doubleheader on March 18. That tied for the eighth-most runs in a game by a team this season.
Oklahoma State is hitting .304 with a .506 slugging percentage and .384 on-base percentage. Oklahoma State, who is fielding at a .977 clip (ninth-best in the nation), has also totaled 112 doubles, 21 triples, 73 home runs, and is averaging 7.2 runs per game along with 45 stolen bases in 59 attempts.
Tyrone Hambly is hitting a team-high .338 with nine homers and 38 RBIs. Neil Medchill is batting .337 with a team-high 14 home runs and 55 RBIs, while Michael Dabbs is hitting .335 with 13 homers, 38 RBIs, 11 stolen bases. Davis Duren has added a team-high 14 stolen bases in 15 attempts as well.
The pitching staff has a 4.60 ERA and .260 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 187 walks against 486 strikeouts, good for a 2.6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Junior lefty Tyler Lyons is 6-5 with a 3.75 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts). In 84.0 innings pitched, he has allowed just four home runs and 21 walks with 66 strikeouts. Freshman righthander Randy McCurry has a team-high nine saves, 3-1 record, 2.45 ERA, and 49 strikeouts in 36.2 innings pitched over a team-high 25 relief appearances.
Clemson and Oklahoma State have met three times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 2-1 lead in the series dating back to 1991. The two teams last met in the 1996 College World Series. The Tigers eliminated the Cowboys with an 8-5 victory. Coincidentally, the Tigers’ next game was against Alabama, also in the 2009 Clemson Regional. Both those meetings were the last time the Tigers faced Oklahoma State and Alabama, respectively.
In 1995, the Tigers opened the season with a 5-2 loss against the Cowboys in a tournament at Arlington, TX. The Tigers also topped Oklahoma State 6-0 in 1991 in the UNLV Desert Classic at Las Vegas, NV. Therefore, all three meetings have been at neutral sites. The Tigers also own a 1-1 record under Head Coach Jack Leggett.
Scouting #4-Seed Tennessee Tech
Fourth-seed Tennessee Tech (30-22-1) enters the Clemson Regional after winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament with a 4-0 record. Tennessee Tech, who is 5-13-1 on opponents’ home fields and 5-0 in neutral-site games, had a 10-11-1 record during its conference regular season. The 2009 season marks the fourth time overall and first time since 2001 that the Golden Eagles have played in an NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee Tech is led by sixth-year Head Coach Matt Bragga. After sporting a 22-20-1 record in their first 43 games, the Golden Eagles ended their pre-NCAA Tourney slate with an 8-2 record.
Tennessee Tech is hitting .293 with a .442 slugging percentage and .384 on-base percentage. Tennessee Tech, who is fielding at a .961 clip, has also totaled 86 doubles, eight triples, 49 home runs, and is averaging 6.2 runs per game along with 26 stolen bases in 36 attempts.
Casanova Donaldson is hitting a team-best .351, while Chad Oberaker is batting .348 with a team-high 10 stolen bases. A.J. Kirby-Jones is the leading run-producer with 20 home runs, 66 RBIs, a .466 on-base percentage, and .344 batting average. Evan Webb has added seven homers and 34 RBIs as well.
The pitching staff has a 5.45 ERA and .276 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 246 walks against 363 strikeouts, good for a 1.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Junior righthander Lee Henry (9-2, 2.96 ERA) is scheduled to start against the Tigers on Friday night. The Knoxville, TN native has made 13 relief appearances and six starts for a total of 76.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 65 hits (.242 opponents’ batting average) and 37 walks with 74 strikeouts. He has also pitched five complete games and has one save. Kirby-Jones, a sophomore righthander, has a team-high three saves and 52 strikeouts in 49.0 innings pitched over 18 appearances (four starts).
Senior catcher Cory Wright is an outstanding defender. He has only allowed 26 stolen bases in 50 attempts and four passed balls. Wright has also picked off a team-high seven baserunners.
Clemson and Tennessee Tech have met twice on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 2-0 lead in the series. Both meetings came at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in a midweek series in 2003. The Tigers won both games by scores of 7-5 and 8-0. In the second game, current Clemson Volunteer Assistant Coach Michael Johnson went 1-for-2 with two runs and three walks as the starting first-baseman.
• Clemson has not lost and will not lose more than two games in a row in 2009.
The Tigers fell one spot to #14 in the Sports Weekly coaches poll this week after going 1-2 in three games last week. Clemson also dropped two spots to #15 in the Collegiate Baseball poll and three spots to #16 in the Baseball America poll.
Clemson has had at least one final top-25 ranking in 12 of Head Coach Jack Leggett’s first 15 seasons in Tigertown. The Tigers have also been ranked #1 for 20 weeks by at least one of the three major polls under Leggett.
That’s how many of Clemson’s 59 games have been against teams that will play in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, which equates to over 44 percent. Clemson has a 14-12 record against the teams in the field, including an 8-4 record at home. The Tigers have played 10 different teams that are in the NCAA Tournament.
Clemson has played one top-eight national seed in North Carolina, and the Tigers were 2-2 in four meetings with the Tar Heels, all games played in the state of North Carolina. The Tigers are also 5-5 against #1 seeds, 7-6 against #2 seeds, and 2-1 against #3 seeds. Clemson has not played a #4 seed this year.
Boyd, Harman Earn All-ACC Tourney Honors
Junior outfielder Wilson Boyd and sophomore lefthander Casey Harman were both named to the All-ACC Tournament team for their performance at Durham (NC) Bulls Athletic Park from May 21-23. They were two of the 11 players selected for the all-tourney squad.
Boyd went 6-for-13 (.462) with five RBIs, one walk, and one stolen base in three games, and he had two hits in each game. His tournament highlight came against #4 North Carolina on May 23. With the bases loaded and two outs in the 11th inning, he belted a walkoff single off the wall in left field to give Clemson a 4-3 victory.
Harman set career-highs for innings pitched (7.1) and strikeouts (10) in a starting role against the Tar Heels. He did not factor in the decision, but he was a big reason the Tigers were able to pull out a 4-3 win in 11 innings. Harman, who was one of only two pitchers selected to the all-tourney team, also allowed just seven hits and one walk while throwing 107 pitches, including 74 strikes.
Wilson Boyd has two of Clemson’s three walkoff hits in 2009. With two outs and the bases loaded in the 10th inning against Charlotte on February 22, he lined a walkoff single to right-center to give Clemson a 6-5 win. Then in the ACC Tournament against #4 North Carolina on May 23, he duplicated that feat. With two outs and the bases loaded in the 11th inning against the Tar Heels, he belted a 3-2 pitch off the wall in left field for a walkoff single to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory.
Boyd also easily leads the team in hitting with runners in scoring position. He is 22-for-47 (.468) in that situation this season and is hitting 123 points higher than the next closest Tiger.
Schaus Named First-Team All-ACC
Sophomore outfielder Jeff Schaus was named First-Team All-ACC in 2008. The team was compiled by a vote of the 12 ACC head coaches. He was one of five first-team outfielders and was the lone Tiger to earn First or Second-Team All-ACC honors.
Schaus, a graduate of Barron Collier High School in Naples, FL, is hitting .329 with 12 doubles, one triple, 11 homers, 43 RBIs, nine stolen bases and a .431 on-base percentage thanks to tallying 38 walks against only 22 strikeouts in 222 at-bats.
Another important reason for his first-team selection is the fact that he hit a team-high .367 with a .445 on-base percentage thanks to 14 walks against only 10 strikeouts in ACC regular-season games.
Clemson Goes 1-2 in the ACC Tournament
Clemson, ranked as high as #13 in the nation, went 1-2 in the ACC Tournament at Durham (NC) Bulls Athletic Park from May 21-23. Clemson was outscored 19-13 and outhit .291 to .274. Mike Freeman went 7-for-15 (.467) with a homer, two RBIs, and four runs, while Wilson Boyd went 6-for-13 (.462) with five RBIs in the tournament. In two relief appearances, Matt Vaughn pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and one walk with two strikeouts.
In the Tigers’ first game of the ACC Tournament on May 21, relievers Andrew Carraway and Kevin Arico combined to limit the Tigers to one hit and no runs in the final 5.1 innings pitched to lead #15 Virginia to a 6-5 victory over Clemson. The Tigers took a 4-0 lead with three runs in the third inning, but the Cavaliers chipped away with two runs in the fourth inning and four runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-5 lead. The Tiger bats were quiet the rest of the game thanks to the Cavalier bullpen. Virginia outhit the Tigers 10-7, as Boyd led Clemson by going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Vaughn pitched 4.0 scoreless innings of two-hit ball in relief to keep the Tigers in the game.
In the Tigers’ second game of the ACC Tournament on May 22, Duke broke a close game open with six runs in the sixth inning on its way to a 10-4 victory over Clemson. Ahead 2-1, the Blue Devils used five hits and two walks to score six runs in the sixth and break the game open. Jake Lemmerman and Nate Freiman both went 3-for-4 with a home run to lead the Blue Devils’ 11-hit attack. The Tigers also tallied 11 hits, but they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base while Duke only left four runners on base. Starter Andrew Wolcott pitched 7.1 effective innings to earn the victory. Boyd went 2-for-3 with an RBI to pace Clemson.
In the Tigers’ third game of the ACC Tournament on May 23, Boyd’s walkoff single with two outs in the 11th inning lifted Clemson to a 4-3 win over #4 North Carolina. The Tar Heels tied the score in the ninth with a run and had scoring chances in the 10th and 11th innings, but each time Clemson worked out of trouble. Freeman, who earlier homered and had four hits, hit a one-out single in the 11th and moved to third on the play on an error. After two intentional walks and a strikeout, Boyd belted a 3-2 pitch off the wall in left for the walkoff win. Starter Casey Harman pitched 7.1 innings, allowing just two runs and one walk with 10 strikeouts, while Graham Stoneburner earned the win.