#5 Georgia Tech (28-5, 12-3) vs. #17 Clemson Tigers (23-11, 10-5)
Georgia Tech so far has shown they are a complete team, ranking 3rd in the ACC in batting and 1st in pitching ERA. They've pretty much destroyed their competition so far, and lost their first series of the season against Virginia last weekend. They swept UNC earlier but as we know, UNC was way overrated coming in. GT has not faced a strong schedule thus far out of the conference and have played three of the bottom dwellers (Duke, WF, Maryland) and crushed all 3. According to the first NCAA RPI rankings for the season, Clemson is ranked 8th, while GT is 18th. Warren Nolan's Pseudo-RPI ranks us 11th and GT 18th, chiefly because of our 7th-ranked SOS.
Since the Elon series, Clemson has begun to fall apart, going just 6-9 since starting off 17-2. We're 5-5 in midweek games. Both Clemson and Duke scored 22 runs in the series, while the Tigers put 60 batters on base and Duke put 44 batters on base. Duke outhit the Tigers .317 to .295, while Clemson had a .421 on-base percentage thanks to 21 walks and five hit-by-pitches. Clemson left 31 runners on base to Duke's 14 in the series. Hinson led Clemson by going 8-for-16 with three doubles and four RBIs, while Schaus added a homer, double, and five RBIs.
The losses have pushed us from a Regional-host projection to traveling to Coastal in the 1st round of the NCAAs.
Clemson and Georgia Tech have met 200 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 100-97-3 lead in the series dating back to the 1902 season. The two teams have faced each other at least one time every year since 1974. The Yellow Jackets hold a 68-40-2 lead all-time in games played at Georgia Tech. Clemson owns a 44-37 advantage in games played in the ACC regular season. Clemson took 2 of 3 at home last year. For whatever reason, Jack Leggett has had Tech's number at Tiger Field, and Danny Hall's since both took over in 1994. Jack is 34-27 against Georgia Tech as Clemson's head coach, but is 8-16 at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Of Leggett's 61 games coached against Georgia Tech as Clemson's skipper, 54 have come against a top-25 Yellow Jacket squad, as he has a 30-24 record in those 54 meetings. Leggett is also 11-7 against a top-five Georgia Tech team.
GT somehow self-destructs come tournament time. On paper they should be Omaha locks this year.....on paper.
Stats after the jump...
Georgia Tech obliterated Georgia 25-6 this week, totaling 25 hits with 12 for extra bases. Leadoff hitter Jeff Rowland and 1B Tony Plagman both went 4-for-5 with 5 RBI between them, Catcher Cole Leonida scored 4 runs, and 3B Matt Skole homered, tripled, and drove in 5 himself on the night.
Last weekend the Bumblebees lost 2 of 3 to UVA, and their powerful lineup was for the most part stifled by Virginia pitching. Staff Ace, and possible 1st round pick, Deck McGuire was cruising through 6 innings until falling apart in the 7th Friday in a loss to UVA's Danny Hultzen 7-4. 17 Tech batters struck out that evening, and the only highlight was Plagman's 3 Run homer in the 5th.
Plagman and Derek Dietrich homered Saturday to lead GT over UVA in Game 2 9-7, on top of freshman Buck Farmer's strong pitching performance in relief of Brandon Crumpton. Crumpton gave up 4 walks and 4 runs on one hit in the first inning and never recorded an out. The top of the GT lineup went 7-for-15 with 7 RBIs.
On Sunday afternoon, UVAs Cody Winiarski gave up just one run in 5.1 innings while Jed Bradley gave up 6 in 5.2 as UVA pounded them 9-1. Derek Dietrich went 2-for-3 with a homer.
Over the whole series the top of the GT lineup hit fairly well, but they couldn't buy a clutch hit against the UVA bullpen.
Meanwhile, Clemson shit the bed Wednesday against Western Carolina 7-5. Mike Kent came in for the 7th, gave up 2 walks and then a Grand Slam to Tyler Kirkpatrick to put the Catamounts on top, wasting a good performance (again) by Dominic Leone. Mike Freeman was held out of the game due to illness, and while Brad Miller didnt get charged with an error on his botched DP, he shouldve been. Boyd went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs, and a walk to lead Clemson, who totaled just four hits...against WESTERN CAROLINA. WTF.
Over the weekend, we dropped 2 of 3 to Duke in Durham, with a ghastly problem of hitting with RISP and a weak bullpen performance.
Clemson is 14-3 when committing two or more errors and 9-7 when committing less than two errors. WTF.
During the week, the Tigers hit .335 with a .495 slugging percentage, .450 on-base percentage, 51 runs, 12 doubles, one triple, five homers, 35 walks, seven hit-by-pitches, and nine stolen bases. The pitching staff had a 6.60 ERA and .295 opponents' batting average along with 32 strikeouts against 14 walks in 45.0 innings pitched.
For the second week in a row, Hinson led the Tigers at the plate. He went 13-for-24 (.542) with two homers, three doubles, 12 RBIs, seven runs, one walk against only one strikeout, two steals, and did not commit an error in 15 chances in the field. Epps was 5-for-13 (.385) with seven runs, eight walks, two hit-by-pitches, and a .652 on-base percentage. Schaus added nine hits, including a homer and two doubles, eight RBIs, and eight runs.
In two relief appearances during the week, Cruz allowed just one run and no walks with three strikeouts in 5.0 innings pitched in two Tiger victories.
Saturday, 1pm TELEVISED: I believe on FSS
Tech's starting pitchers are 21-4, and have combined for 193 strikeouts in 196.0 innings. Deck McGuire leads the way with 60 strikeouts, the second most in the conference. McGuire ranks in the top five in the conference in five different categories: wins (5, T-1st), Innings pitched (59.2, 1st), strikeouts (60, 2nd), Opponent batting average (.217, 5th) and complete games (2, 1st).
Its the 2nd and 3rd starters that might end up costing GT a CWS title.
GT's lineup is powerful, but not particularly selective at the plate. They don't walk that much and go up there hacking away. If you can keep Rowland and Dietrich off the bases, you can hold them down a little, but thats a big if. Georgia Tech, who is in the top-five in the nation in many offensive categories, is averaging 10.7 runs per game and hitting a .613 slugging percentage and .441 on-base percentage.
Four different Yellow Jackets have totaled at least 10 home runs. Plagman leads the ACC with 13 dingers. Skole, Dietrich and Plagman lead the ACC in slugging percentage. The Jackets have homered in 12 straight games, and 20 of their last 21. Leonida is a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award. Senior OF Jay Dantzler has missed 15 games with a broken wrist.
Jason Stolz played for Freeman at 2B against WCU, and Phil Pohl is likely to catch at least one game or part of 2 in the series. OF Addison Johnson played quite a bit against Duke, and is hitting .240-2-12 so far. I have heard no word on Richie Shaffer's return.
Alex Frederick (0-1, 4.00 ERA) and David Haselden (3-2, 3.97) were Jack's go-to guys in the bullpen these last few weeks, and at Duke they let him down. Both were beat up in two games last weekend against Duke. This with the lack of clutch hitting is why we fell in Durham. When all 3 starters were beat up, no one could come in and take care of the Blue Devils whatsoever. With Leone seemingly locking up a midweek rotation spot, what do we have left?
Kevin Brady is someone I've harped on as being good, he's got the stuff to play ball in the pros, but he's a freshman. In 20 IP he's given up 21 hits and has 24 Ks. Jonathan Meyer got off to a hot start and has come crashing down, giving up 11 runs in 18.2 IP and ballooning his ERA to 5.30. Tomas Cruz got beat up with hits and walks but hasn't given up many runs lately, bringing his ERA down from over 11 to 7.36.
But if no one shows up against GT, you'll be turning the game off after the 6th inning.
Tech's bullpen hasn't had to perform like ours, because Hall lets his pitchers go more than 5-6 innings in a start. Mark Pope started the game against Georgia this week and appears to be the solid 4th starter and does not have an appearance out of the bullpen. Buck Farmer pitched solid in relief and as a 5th starter in midweek games, posting a 3-1 record with 2.96 ERA in 10 appearances (2 starts). Farmer leads those out of the pen with 27.1 IP. The only other major contributors (more than 9IP) are Andrew Robinson (3-0, 0.90 ERA, 2 SV in 20 IP) and Luke Bard (0-0, 6.19 ERA, 1 SV, 16 IP). As for the rest, its mostly young guys with 5-7 IP spread out among them. The rest of the pen have pretty solid stats but haven't gotten any experience, not enough to make a firm conclusion about them.
So expect GTs starters to go 7-8 Innings and only see a few guys pitch in relief. GT is 23-1 when leading after six innings
Georgia Tech fields at a .973 clip, 4th in the league. Clemson has pulled themselves out of last place but still sucks in the field. Brad Miller has 2 errors in his last 10 games, though the way he blew a DP ball against WCU Wednesday did cost us one run in the 4th inning. He decided, with a runner on 1st and one out, to just throw to 1st base instead of the waiting Jason Stolz at 2nd to get the DP going. Then he started walking off the field as if the inning was over. The lead runner later scored.
Given Clemson's struggles of late, and even considering Jack's success against Tech, I find it impossible to predict a series win on the road. I see us winning one of the 3 games, but a 2nd will be tough. A sweep for us is nearly impossible.The Tigers have not won two games in a series at Georgia Tech since 1996. Starting in 1998, the Yellow Jackets are 14-4 against the Tigers at Russ Chandler Stadium. The home team has won the series every year since 1997. FSU should take the ACC Atlantic lead if they can handle Duke this weekend.