Clemson Tigers (7-0) vs. South Carolina Yardbirds (5-2)
When: Friday's opener is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Tiger Field (on TigerCast) with Saturday's contest at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. at 2 p.m. and the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium, also a 2 p.m. start. Clemson is the designated home team Saturday.
Clemson leads the all time series 165-120-2: 93-42 at CU and 46-25 at Tiger Field. Jack is 30-29 against SC at Clemson, 15-13 at home. Under Ray Tanner, SC is 25-22 against CU.
Friday: Jr. Casey Harman (2-0, 0.84) vs. Sr. Blake Cooper (2-0, 3.00)
Saturday: Soph. Will Lamb (1-0, 1.42) vs. Jr. Sam Dyson (1-0, 2.35)
Sunday: Soph. Scott Weismann (1-0, 2.89) vs. Fr. Tyler Webb (0-0, 0.00)
Last weekend - SC lost a key early series against #14 East Carolina on the road, who had lost ot UVA the previous weekend. The Cluckers won Game 1 6-2 behind Cooper, then lost the next two 4-3 and 4-2. Dyson pitched 4 solid innings against ECU and Webb threw 4 scoreless innings of relief against them as well.
South Carolina held a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning when ECU made its final charge. Austin Homan drew a leadoff walk against Gamecock reliever Michael Roth to give the Pirates a runner to open the frame. Roth fought back though and struck out Philip Clark to give the Gamecocks the first out of the inning. South Carolina would then go to the bullpen for reliever John Taylor, who was able to get the second out as Bobby Haney fielded a slow roller from Cameron Freeman and threw cleanly to first to secure the out as ECU pinch runner Bryan Bass advanced to second base. With two outs and a 0-1 count, ECU third baseman Corey Thompson knocked a ball into the hole between third base and shortstop that bounced past Gamecock shortstop Bobby Haney and into left field scoring Bass and tying the game at 3-3. ECU's Zach Wright followed with an infield single, again into the hole between third and short setting the stage for Whitehead. On a 2-1 pitch, Whitehead laced a single into right field that scored pincher runner Chris Gosik and lifted the Pirates to a 4-3 victory.
East Carolina rode the momentum of a three-run first inning and added a an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth that was enough to back starting pitcher Brad Mincey, who worked seven innings and allowed one run, unearned, on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks to pick up the victory. The game was not without drama though as the Gamecocks scratched back to score a pair of runs in the seventh and eighth innings only to see the rally fall short.
SC came back midweek to pound Presbyterian 15-0.
Nolan Belcher was dominant on the hill for the Gamecocks with five scoreless innings and just one infield hit allowed. He struck out seven and walked one to earn his first win of the year. Matt Price also struck out one in one inning of relief with Parker Bangs striking out two batters in his stint. Freshmen Ethan Carter and Colby Holmes closed the game out with an inning apiece as well. South Carolina pitchers had 10 strikeouts to two walks on the afternoon.
"It has been only seven games but our pitching continues to do a nice job," said head coach Ray Tanner. "We used five guys today. Nolan Belcher had a quality start and we had some guys in the bullpen that got a little bit of work. We got a bunch of runs early with two outs, so that put us where we needed to be today."
Carolina's 18 hits included eight doubles and a pair of homers. The eight doubles tied for the fourth highest mark by a team coached by Ray Tanner in South Carolina history. Merrifield finished 3-for-6 with a grand slam homer and also scored two runs. He also extended his hitting streak that began last season to 21 games. Wingo was 2-for-3 with four runs scored and was twice hit by pitch.
Clemson swept Wright State last weekend and won against Dayton in 10 innings Tuesday afternoon on a horrendous pitching performance by Dayton's pen.
"We've played pretty well so far," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "I kind of like the way we're approaching every game, and the kids are focused on what they have to do. We're in a situation where now we have to bump it up a notch, with South Carolina coming up and then the conference schedule."
"I think we've got some good experience on our team in the field, and some pretty good depth with our offensive players," Leggett said. "I think overall if two or three guys have a really good day, it's carrying us. If a couple guys are off a little bit, other guys can pick us up. So our depth is really helping us."
|CF||Whit Merrifield||.333/.394 OBP||1 HR||6 RBI||11R|
Enders has hit safely in each game to date, Matthews sprained an ankle against ECU last weekend. SC has used multiple combinations at DH, and right now hit.309 as a team with 8 HRs. Not particularly imposing, though they did play a good team already and we have not. Sophomore CF Jackie Bradley is one of their best players who has been injured so far with a broken hand, and only came back against PC. If he's ready to go, expect Matthews to be out of the lineup and things to be reshuffled in the middle. Nick Ebert is another to watch for at 1B who was out due to academics.
They dont steal as many bases as Clemson and all by 3 are by different players. As a team, they've committed only 4 errors defensively, all by different players so far.
Clemson is hitting .304 so far with a nice .488 slugging percentage, 17 doubles, 9 HRs and 13 steals. Parker is hitting .464-4-10, Miller .423, and Schaus .407-1-11. The middle of our order is more imposing to me than theirs, and I believe Clemson has the deeper lineup top to bottom. Epps must hit better at the top though if we're to have a chance. So far he's been working walks (7) and Freeman has gotten on base to score many of our runs. Brad Miller has been the spark in the lower part of the lineup. Wilson Boyd has shown flashes at the plate in the 5/6 hole but has been inconsistent, while Richie Shaffer has what it takes to be another Mike Johnson. Phil Pohl is hitting so well at Catcher right now that I hope he gets the start over Nester, we'll need it.
Like Clemson, they've had several guys who have pitched just once or twice out of the Pen, so its hard to get a good read on them so far. Cooper, Dyson, Neff, Webb, and Belcher have been starters so far. The pitching staff is 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 61.2 innings. The staff has 71 Ks to 19 walks with opponents only hitting .217 on the year, but as you can see its not evident that they have an anchor in the pen just yet. John Taylor, who blew the game against ECU, was thought to be the closer coming into the season and has struggled so far. Still, the starting pitching looks very good to me.
Tanner had this to say about Dyson, who is coming off surgery:
"He's looked great, actually, to me," Tanner said. "We've been very careful with him. I know he wasn't happy being lifted at East Carolina—I think he was at 55 or 58 pitches, throwing extremely well. But it's a long season. He'll throw a few more pitches Saturday against Clemson. His velocity's been good, and his changeup is the best I've ever seen it, and a good slider. His first outing against Duquesne he was 97 a couple of times but was low to mid-90s quite often. He is one of those pitchers in college baseball, there's not that many, but on any given day he can dominate a team."
Clemson's staff has a 2.67 ERA, 17 BBs and 50 Ks. Freshman Jonathan Meyer seems to be one of Jack's early favorites out of the bullpen and I suspect if he continues to hold up, he'll end up with the Closer's job instead of Cruz....but it'll be hard to unseat the upperclassman in conference play. I just hope Sarratt does not pitch much.
Given that this is so early in the season, its hard to know which way things will go, but the fallout will likely affect the outcome for the next few weeks for either team. SC just dropped a series against ECU and really can't afford to drop another against a good opponent before starting a tough SEC slate. Clemson has historically struggled offensively around this time in my memory, though not so far, and if the pitchers get shelled then it'll affect the young ones going forward.
SC's starting pitching matches up very well with ours but at the moment we may have an edge in the bullpen. Casey Harman has been quite good so far, though Jack has not let him go deeper into games. Will Lamb I think will end up taking a permanent starting job, he's got some good pitches. Weismann hasn't pitched enough for my liking either, but gave up too many hits and was hurt by his defense in the last outing.
SC's hitting ability has usually been what gives us the most problems. Tanner doesnt play small-ball like Leggett, and lets his hitters swing away and they don't play nearly as tight in big games as Clemson does. Still, if one team has to scratch for runs, I think Clemson is the one that can do it, plus we have more depth in my opinion. I think Clemson wins the series 2-1.
(we have used Baseball America rankings)