Clemson Baseball Preview vs. South Carolina
Clemson vs. South Carolina
Clemson (20-10), ranked as high as #20 in the nation, will travel to Columbia to take on South Carolina (20-10) on Tuesday night at Carolina Stadium in the second of four scheduled meetings. The Gamecocks scored two runs in the ninth inning to down the Tigers 3-1 on February 28, 2009 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. First pitch for Tuesday’s game is scheduled for 7:00 PM. It will be the Tigers’ first-ever game at the Gamecocks’ new 9,000-seat stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the radio by Clemson Tiger Sports Network. Live stats will also be available at ClemsonTigers.com.
The two teams will also play two more times in April (April 8 at Clemson, April 22 at South Carolina).
Clemson and South Carolina have met 284 times on the diamond, with Clemson holding a 163-119-2 lead in the series dating back to 1899. South Carolina is Clemson’s most-played rival in history.
Earlier this season on Feburary 28, South Carolina scored two runs in the ninth inning to top Clemson 3-1 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. In 2008, South Carolina won all four matchups. In 2007, South Carolina won the first three meetings before Clemson won the final matchup by a score of 14-5 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. In the 2006 season, the Tigers won three of four meetings, while the two teams split the four-game season series in both the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
The Gamecocks hold a 74-65-2 lead over the Tigers in games played in Columbia. Jack Leggett is 28-28 against South Carolina as Clemson’s head coach, including a 14-13 mark in games played at South Carolina. Leggett was also 3-8 against the Gamecocks as Western Carolina’s head coach, meaning he is 31-36 all-time against South Carolina.
The Starting Pitchers
South Carolina will start senior righthander Jay Brown (2-0, 1.96 ERA) on the mound. The Brunswick, GA native has made three starts and two relief appearances for a total of 18.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 15 hits (.224 opponents’ batting average) and nine walks with 13 strikeouts.
Clemson will counter with junior righty Justin Sarratt (3-1, 3.81 ERA) on Tuesday. The Gaffney, SC native has made four starts and four relief appearances for a total of 26.0 innings pitched. He has given up 19 hits (.200 opponents’ batting average) and four walks with 20 strikeouts.
South Carolina, led by 13th-year Head Coach Ray Tanner, enters Tuesday’s game against #20 Clemson with a 20-10 overall record and 5-7 SEC mark after winning one of three games at home against #4 Arkansas over the weekend. The Gamecocks, who are 14-6 at home, are 9-2 in games decided by two runs or less.
South Carolina is averaging 7.3 runs per game and hitting .303 with a .526 slugging percentage and .394 on-base percentage. The team also has 62 doubles, six triples, 52 homers, and 27 steals.
Nick Ebert is hitting .361 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs, both team-highs, along with a .843 slugging percentage and .509 on-base percentage. DeAngelo Mack is batting .360 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs, while Whit Merrifield is hitting .303 with a team-high 10 steals.
The pitching staff has a 5.02 ERA and .243 opponents’ batting average along with 252 strikeouts against 141 walks in 265.1 innings pitched. Senior lefthander Alex Farotto has either a decision or save in all 10 of his relief appearances. He is 3-2 with five saves and a 4.35 ERA. The Gamecocks are fielding at a .977 clip as well.
Clemson, ranked as high as #20 in the nation, enters Tuesday’s game at South Carolina with a 20-10 overall record and 9-6 ACC mark after winning two home games against Duke last weekend. The Tigers are 4-6 on opponents’ home fields.
Clemson is averaging 6.4 runs per game and hitting .289 with a .436 slugging percentage and .381 on-base percentage. The Tigers have also totaled 51 doubles, seven triples, 29 home runs, and 37 stolen bases in 49 attempts.
Ben Paulsen is hitting a team-best .393 with nine doubles, two triples, seven homers, 33 RBIs, a .684 slugging percentage, and .449 on-base percentage. Mike Freeman is batting .331 with a .442 on-base percentage, while Kyle Parker and Jeff Schaus both have five home runs.
The pitching staff has a 3.51 ERA and .245 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 79 walks against 257 strikeouts, good for a 3.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Tomas Cruz has a 2-1 record, two saves, and a 2.38 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched over 12 relief appearances. The Tigers are fielding at a .968 clip as well.
The Tigers dropped three spots to #20 in the Sports Weekly coaches poll this week after going 2-3 in five games last week. Clemson also fell out of the Collegiate Baseball poll and remained unranked 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.
McKinney’s Sidearm Delivery Effective
By his own account, senior righthander Clinton McKinney (Greenville, SC) struggled in his first season at Clemson in 2008 when he had a 9.00 ERA in 15 relief appearances. But 2009 has been a different story for the sidearm reliever.
In 2009, he has provided the Tigers with outstanding work out of the bullpen. In 11.2 innings pitched over five relief appearances, he has a 1.54 ERA and 13 strikeouts against only one walk. He also owns a 2-0 record, victories against Elon in the first game of a doubleheader on March 24 and against Duke on April 3. Prior to his outing against Elon, he had only made two relief appearances for a total of 2.0 innings pitched in Clemson’s first 20 games of the season.
Against the Phoenix, he pitched 3.0 scoreless innings of two-hit ball with three strikeouts in Clemson’s 5-3 win. Then against the Blue Devils, he allowed just four hits, one unearned run, and no walks with three strikeouts in the final 4.1 innings in the Tigers’ 7-3 win.
Clemson Outlasts Duke to Claim Series
Clemson, ranked #17 in the nation, won two of three games against Duke at Doug Kingsmore Stadium from April 3-5. The Tigers outscored Duke 24-14 and outhit the Blue Devils .349 to .314 along with totaling 14 extra-base hits. Ben Paulsen went 7-for-12 (.583) with four runs, two doubles, two homers, and eight RBIs, while Addison Johnson went 5-for-9 (.556) with two doubles and three walks. The Tiger pitching staff had a 4.00 ERA and 19 strikeouts against six walks.
In game-one on April 3, Clinton McKinney pitched 4.1 strong innings in relief to lead Clemson to a 7-3 win over Duke. McKinney allowed just four hits, one unearned run, and no walks with three strikeouts to earn the win. Clemson hit three homers, including Paulsen’s two-run long ball in the fifth inning that gave the Tigers the lead for good. Jason Stolz and Kyle Parker added solo home runs later in the game for the Tigers, who had 11 hits. Johnson went 2-for-2 with two walks, while Parker and Brad Miller added two hits apiece. Duke totaled 11 hits and had 14 batters reach base, but it left eight runners on base and Clemson turned three double plays.
In game-two on April 4, Duke scored six runs in the fourth inning and hung on for a 10-7 win over Clemson. The Blue Devils scored six runs in the fourth inning and two runs in the sixth inning to build a 9-1 lead. The Tigers chipped away with two runs apiece in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, then the Tigers had the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth inning. But Clemson fell short after leaving 12 runners on base to Duke’s six in the game. Johnson and Paulsen had three hits apiece for the Tigers, who outhit Duke 16-13, while six Tigers in all had at least two hits. Will Piwnica-Worms had two hits and three RBIs to pace Duke.
In game-three on April 5, Jack Leggett earned his 700th win as Tiger head coach in Clemson’s 10-1 win over Duke. The Tigers outhit Duke 11-8 and scored four runs in the third inning to take a 5-1 lead. Paulsen went 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs to lead the Tigers. Starter Chris Dwyer pitched 6.0 innings to earn the win, as he allowed four hits, one run, and no walks with five strikeouts. After allowing a leadoff triple in the first inning, he retired the next 11 batters and did not allow a runner past first base during the remainder of his outing. Four Tiger pitchers combined for eight strikeouts against no walks, while four Duke pitchers combined to walk nine batters and hit two more.