Tigers, Jackets Ready for Weekend Rumble

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Jack Leggett's attention-grabbing postgame meeting with his team this week wasn't planned. It just happened.

Well, sort of.

Leggett may not have intended to be so vocal along the first base line during his much-discussed tirade, but make no mistake about it - he was displeased with Clemson's play following the 9-6 victory over Elon. And he intended for his team to know why.

"This is a great group of kids, they work hard and do everything we ask of them," said Leggett. "But sometimes you have to get a message across, and there are different ways to do it. Sometimes you have to be their best friend after they've lost, and other times you have to jump them after a win in which they played poorly.

"I wasn't happy with some of the things that happened during that game, and they need to know why. We can't make those kind of mistakes and still reach our goals."

Nor could they expect to stay in the game against upper echelon competition. And with No. 6 Georgia Tech (30-11, 16-5 ACC) invading Doug Kingsmore Stadium this weekend, it's easy to see there was a method to Leggett's madness.

The Yellow Jackets have been at or near the top of the league all season, but enter tonight's series opener on a four-game losing skid. After dropping three straight at Virginia last weekend, Tech lost to arch-rival Georgia Wednesday night, 11-8, at Turner Field in Atlanta.

Making matters worse, the Yellow Jackets are 2-12 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium since Leggett took over the Clemson program in 1994.

But Tech remains a dangerous opponent. They lead the ACC with a .338 team batting average and a .439 on-base percentage. Their 51 team home runs - one more than Clemson's offense - will present a stiff challenge to the Tigers' pitching staff. Clemson pitchers have allowed just 15 round-trippers all season.

Heading up Leggett's staff this weekend will be sophomore righthander Stephen Faris (4-2, 1.20 ERA).

His consistent work as a mid-week starter and weekend relief ace ultimately became too much to overlook, and now Faris has basically forced himself into the weekend starting rotation. He will oppose sophomore lefty Lee Hyde (5-2, 4.14) tonight (7:15 first pitch).

Clemson's usual Friday starter, Josh Cribb, has been moved to the bullpen.

The matchups for the rest of the weekend will see Clemson (27-16, 12-6) send lefty Robert Rohrbaugh (5-2, 4.27) to the mound Saturday vs. Tech righty Blake Wood (7-1, 4.27).

Sunday, Kris Harvey (5-2, 4.55) will go for the Tigers. His opposition for the Yellow Jackets has not been decided.

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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