The first real test of the season for either team is this weekend. Several college baseball sites have released previews and thoughts about the series between the Cluckers and Tigers and everyone in the CBB world is going to be watching this one. The first game is set for tonight, barring rain, against SC junkballer Michael Roth. SC's pitching depth on the rotation was hit pretty solidly but they still have a potent lineup.
"I think his stuff is better than it was last year," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "He's been a contributor here prior to now—he had a tremendous number of appearances last year in that bullpen, and we used him in a different role at the end of the year. Now he's a starter, and one of the reasons is because of his experience. We felt based on his makeup, his poise and composure, his ability to throw multiple pitches, that he could be that guy. He's not going to knock you down with a 93-94 mph fastball, although his fastball has jumped: It used to be low- to mid-80s, now it's getting into the upper 80s, so it's making people respect him."
Roth said he has worked with new pitching coach Jerry Meyers on throwing from a higher arm slot against righties, and he still attacks lefties from a sidearm slot. His changeup has always been his go-to secondary pitch, giving him a weapon against righthanded hitters, and he mixes in a slider against lefties and an over-the-top curveball against righties, but he's primarily a fastball-changeup guy.
Friday's game is set at 7pm in Cola, Saturday at Fluor Field at 4pm and Sunday at 2pm at Tiger Field.
Saturday's game will be televised live and available on WMYA (My40) in the Upstate. It was also be carried by the FOX affiliates in Charleston (WTAT), Columbia (WACH), and Myrtle Beach (WFXB). The game will be available live via webcast at ESPN3.com as well. Sunday's game will be televised live by CSS.
Clemson and South Carolina have met 292 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 167-123-2 lead in the series dating to the 1899 season. South Carolina is Clemson's most-played rival in history. Last year Clemson won 2 of 3 against SC in the regular season at this same point in the year, and lost 2 games in the World Series.
South Carolina batted around to score nine runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and junior left-hander Steven Neff struck out a career-high seven batters in four innings of work to earn his first win of the year as South Carolina defeated Furman 14-1 on Tuesday night.
The gamecocks have swept Santa Clara and Southern Illinois the last two weekends.
Clemson defeated Wofford 5-1 midweek, and swept the First Pitch Invitational over Charleston Southern, Michigan State, and Cincinnati quite handily.
SC has said that it will be either Adam Westmoreland or Steven Neff, both lefthanders, that will start Sunday. I would lean towards Westmoreland.
South Carolina is averaging 8.1 runs per game and hitting .335 with a .537 slugging percentage and .429 on-base percentage. The team has totaled 19 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, and six stolen bases.
Christian Walker is hitting a team-high .538 witih four doubles, two homers, and 12 RBIs. He is the only Gamecock to hit safely in all seven games and has six multi-hit games. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is hitting .423 with four doubles, one triple, two homers, and eight RBIs, while Adrian Morales is batting .381 with one home run and nine RBIs. Senior Scott Wingo, son of former Tiger baseball and football player Billy Wingo, has a .292 batting average along with one homer and two RBIs. As you can see below the rest is not particularly fearsome, and it will be necessary to keep the leadoff guys off the bases for Bradley and Walker.
The Tigers are averaging 10.3 runs per game and hitting .356 with a .487 slugging percentage and .481 on-base percentage. Clemson has also totaled 10 doubles, three triples, five homers, and 19 stolen bases in 23 attempts. As usual, we're working tons of walks and stealing bases. I noticed some Clemson writers are saying the walks are way up, but we were very good at this last season too.
Clemson's batters were discussing the Easton bats that we were using, saying we have a little less pop in ours than say Nike's. Easton has sent us new bats this week, but no word yet on how those are going.
The Clucker pitching staff has a 2.00 ERA and .198 opponents' batting average along with 71 strikeouts against 17 walks in 63.0 innings pitched. Sophomore righthander Matt Price has both of the team's saves with 3IP so far. John Taylor leads with 4 appearances, and has given up 1 hit and 1 walk in 5.1 IP. The weakest links are probably Colby Holmes or Logan Munson, but again its just too early to tell anything. They carry many arms out there but they are all thin on experience.
The Tiger pitching staff has a 2.14 ERA and .203 opponents' batting average. The staff has allowed 15 walks against 54 strikeouts, good for a 3.60-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Tiger pitching staff has not allowed an earned run in the last 24 innings.
The Gamecocks are fielding at a .981 clip and have not allowed a stolen base. The Tigers, who have allowed just one stolen base in four attempts, are fielding at a .972 clip. Brad Miller has just one error thus far.
I think Clemson wins 2 of 3. I think we have a little better lineup so far and more quality in the Pen at this point in the year. I think our freshmen are hitting well but that will end this weekend when they see some quality pitching.