#15 Clemson plays at 7pm against Tennessee Tech Friday night, while Alabama plays OK State in the early afternoon game. Trey Delk (4-1 2.98 ERA) will take the mound in Game 1. Delk has made ten appearances this season, all starts. He has given up 47 hits in 45-and-a-third innings of work, while striking out 38 batters. He'll be lined up against TT Jr. Starter Lee Henry (9-2, 2.96, 74 K in 76 IP), with 5 complete games.
Clemson is 35-7 in NCAA Regional games played at Tiger Field, and finished the season 19-7 and hitting .341; we've definitely finished the season strong, but the defensive play in the ACC Tourney worries me the most. Fridays game will be just the third meeting between Clemson and Tennessee Tech. Clemson won a two-game series in March of 2003.
Tennessee Tech should not pose a problem for Delk, but given Jack's predilection for taking pitchers out too soon, I'm not sure how it matters. They have one player with 20 Homers, a rarity in college ball now with the altered aluminum bats (A.J. Kirby-Jones, .344, 20 HR, 66 RBI).
Leggett: "I've been in a lot of NCAA Tournament games, and that first one is probably the toughest. You come out of the blocks, you have to get your game going and the other team always has a good pitcher, so it's always a close ballgame where you have to find a way to make it swing in your favor.
"I've been doing this a long time. When a team comes off winning a conference championship, they're at a high. They're playing their best baseball of the year, and they've got confidence, so that's what I expect to see from Tennessee Tech."
The GNews has capsule previews of each team in the regional.
Tennessee Tech comes to Clemson with a 30-22-1 record after winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament with four straight wins, including each of the last two by one run in extra innings. The Golden Eagles defeated Jacksonville State in the championship game 4-3 in 10 innings. Tennessee Tech was 10-11-1 in the regular season in the OVC and was the #4 seed in the tournament. But Head Coach Matt Bragga's team scored 33 runs in the four tourney games to take home the trophy.
Tennessee Tech is led on offense by A.J. Kirby-Jones, who has a team-high 20 home runs and a team-best 66 RBIs in starting all 53 games this year. He is also hitting .344 and was named MVP of the OVC Tournament. Casanova Donaldson is the top hitter with a .351 batting average, while Chad Oberaker is second at .348, but they have very little power other than Kirby-Jones.
Oklahoma State has fairly good pitchers in Andy Oliver (5-6, 5.58 ERA) and Tyler Lyons (6-5, 3.75 ERA), and have a good closer (Randy McCurry (3-1, 2.45 ERA, 9 SV)). Don't let that high ERA fool you, the Big XII is a tough league too, and their defense is ranked 9th in fielding nationally. The Cowboys are led by Neil Medchill, who is hitting .337 with a team-high 14 homers and 55 RBI, and Micheal Dabbs (.325, 13 HR, 38 RBIs).
#20 Alabama has some great hitting but little pitching depth, leading the HR count against their opponents 107-50 and outscoring by 185 runs. we'd be wise to walk Kent Matthes (.365, 28 HR, 81 RBI) and look for Ross Wilson (.349, 9 HR, 46 RBI) and Brandon May (.343, 12 HR, 68 RBIs). 3B/RP Jake Smith is lost for the tournament due to injury at the SEC Tournament. Austin Hyatt (8-2, 3.14 ERA) is their top starter.
Ben Paulsen's experience here has brought him closer to his father, Clemson assistant Tom Riginos.
Clemson's catchers have always been solid, dating back before Matt LeCroy.
Kyle Parker's two-sport journey is chronicled in this article from ESPN.
Lee Corso suffered a minor stroke, but is expected back on ESPN Gameday.
Phil Steele ranked Clemson #25 in his preseason football prospectus.