While I don't see us making it out of this Regional and onto a likely rematch with GT or a series at Bammer, I will go through the team averages and top players for each squad so we'll know what to look for this weekend in Auburn.
Clemson will play Southern Miss in Game 1 Friday 3pm, EST, on TigerCast. Auburn will play JSU that night in Game 2 at 7pm EST.
Games will start at 3 and 7pm from there out. Loser plays loser first on Saturday in an elim game, then the winners in the nightcap. This happens again Sunday and then whomever is left faces off until its over, even until Monday if necessary.
Clemson and Auburn have met 90 times on the diamond, with the SEC Tigers holding a 47-40-3 lead in the series dating back to 1901. The two teams last met in a three-game series at Auburn in 2005. Auburn won two of three games despite Clemson outscoring Auburn in the series 23-17.
Auburn won two of three games at Clemson in 2004, again despite the ACC Tigers outscoring the SEC Tigers 24-23. In 2003, the two teams met four times, including a three-game series at Auburn that saw the SEC Tigers win two of three contests. Then Clemson traveled to the Auburn Regional in the 2003 postseason and saw its season end at the hands of Auburn by a score of 15-0.
Clemson is 16-28-3 against the SEC Tigers in games played at Auburn. The ACC Tigers also own a 5-4 record against Auburn in NCAA Tournament games and 0-2 record under Jack.
Clemson has never faced Jax State or Southern Miss in baseball.
Overall, Clemson has been to a regional in 35 seasons, sixth-most all-time. Clemson's all-time record in NCAA play is 101-73, a 58.0 winning percentage.
#1 seed Auburn went 1-2 in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, losing to Ole Piss 10-7 and Bammer 7-1, while defeating the Cluckers 3-1. They won the SEC Western Division in regular season play.
#2 seed Clemson went 1-2 in the ACC Tournament, and our pitching took a dump on us in the two losses.
#3 seed Southern Miss defeated Rice to win the Conference USA Tournament, going 3-1. Their loss came to ECU. Southern Miss went to the CWS last season, and have been in the NCAAs 8 years straight. Their coach is not the same one who took them into the CWS last year, but they have won 17 of their last 22.
#4 seed Jax State won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament with a perfect 3-0 run. This is just the 3rd overall NCAA Tournament for them. They have played at Auburn this season, losing 9-7 last month.
As you can see its heavy on the southpaws, and Clemson has a 12-13 record against LH starters this year. Dayton has given up 12 homers however. Auburn finished 5th in SEC-only team ERA (4.96) and 6th overall in ERA (4.78). They don't walk a very high number of batters until you get deeper into the bullpen, as you might expect fromformer Tiger Pitching Coach John Pawlowski.
Auburn's closer is Austin Hubbard, who has a 5-2 record with 9 saves and a 1.96 ERA in 41.1IP. He has 54 Ks.
Pawlowski, a former Clemson player, got started in coaching as Leggett's pitching coach in 1994 after his pro career was over. Then he faced his alma mater regularly as head coach at College of Charleston.
"Coach Leggett gave me my first opportunity to get involved with college baseball, and I can't thank him enough for that opportunity," Pawlowski said on Thursday. "I had five years that I worked for him. It was a great learning experience for me and helped springboard my career. I am certainly thankful for that."
This will be Auburn's first regional appearance in five years and the first time the Tigers have hosted since 2003. Leggett says he gave Pawlowski a nice recommendation to Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs two years ago, and isn't surprised by the fast results.
"He was responsible for a lot of the positive things that happened during that time for our baseball team," the Clemson coach said. "We had great pitching staffs."
Jack Leggett announced today that Scott Weismann will go in game 1 against Southern Miss, who have a RH-dominated lineup.
Why you ask? Why not usual No. 1 starter Casey Harman? Basically it's because Southern Miss will have six or seven right-handed bats in its lineup. We suggested this would be the avenue Clemson would choose earlier in the week.
Weismann has only one quality start in his last six attempts, and he was shelled by Virginia Tech in his last outing at the ACC Tournament.
By throwing Weismann Friday, Clemson will save left-handed starters Casey Harman and Will Lamb for left-handed heavy Auburn.
Lamb has pitched well of late and Harman had a gritty outing in the ACCT. I think we'll be better off IF we can win game 1....which is a big IF with the way Weismann has tanked. Greg Wallace shows what Jack and Scott had to say here.
"I figured the best matchup against a team was the best way to handle it," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "Scotty had a rough outing the last time out, fell off the saddle, but we’ll put him back on the horse. He had a great outing against Florida State (three runs in 6.1 innings) and has had great outings leading up to that. I’m confident he’ll go out there and battle for it."
Weismann admitted he was "a little flat" against the Hokies and has made some mechanical adjustments this week. Keeping the ball down would be smart: Plainsman Park plays like Boston’s Fenway Park and Greenville’s Fluor Field ( a place Clemson has thrived, winning seven of eight lifetime games).
It measures 335 feet to left-center (with a 30-foot high wall), 385 to center and 361 to right-center.
"I want to keep the ball on the ground, keep it out of the air," said Weismann, a Boxborough, Mass., native. "It reminds me of Fenway. I want to get some grounders, turn some double plays. We’re going to attack them like we do any other team," Weismann said. "We know what they did last year with the run to the College World Series and we’re trying to do the same thing. We’re not going to take anyone lightly. We’re going to go after them."
Clemson starts off against Southern Miss, and will have a tough task knocking off either of those top two starters. Once you get beyond them though, this team is not special from the mound. The overall team ERA is 5.73 from giving up over a hit per inning and walking nearly 5 batters per game.
Again, nothing at all special. This is a hitting team, as the pitching staff has a 6.60 ERA. Closer Alex Jones has a 3.60 ERA and 6 saves, with 60 Ks in 50IP. He's the best they've got.
Just from looking at this, I think Clemson has a good shot with our LH-dominated lineup to defeat the two lesser teams, but that will end against an all-lefty pitching staff from Auburn.
Best Hitters and Team Stats
Just to pick out a few hitters and team stats, since theres so much to sift through here.
Of course you know Clemson's group is made of mostly singles hitters and then Kyle Parker. SS Brad Miller has taken the team lead with a .373 average, 7 HRs and 37 RBI, while working 47 walks. Parker comes in second at the cleanup spot with .364-19-57 and Jeff Schaus leads the team in RBIs with 75 (.311, 15HRs). As long as Epps stays out of the lineup I'm happy with it. We don't have as many high-average hitters as others but it is a balanced lineup average-wise. It would be nice if we didn't have so many lefties to worry about against the LH-dominated Auburn staff.
Auburn's lineup is talented, but they strike out at a good high rate and don't work that many walks, so they're not a patient group. They don't really need to, since every starter is at or over .300, and even the backups hit at a high clip. There will be no gimme outs in this group. They have 3 players with over 15 doubles and 4 with over 15 homers; 2 of 20+. Hunter Norris leads the team with an eye-popping .392 average, with 21 homers, 70 RBIs and a .752 SLG%. He crowds the plate as well, leading the team with 11 HBP. Dan Gamache sports a .387 average with 7-34, and Trent Mummey (.371-15-47) and Brian Fletcher (.359-20-70) hit at an outstanding rate as well.
Southern Miss' lineup is good, but its not a power-laden lineup. Only one player, their best hitter B.A. Vollmuth, has over 10 homers (.378-18-68, 42 walks). Its a deep lineup average-wise, as nearly everyone hits at or above .300, and their bench is comprised of some good hitters as well. The other two who hit over .350 are Taylor Walker (.365-7-53) and Adam Doleac (.365-6-53). They don't steal many bases as a group, and no one has over 10 on the year.
Jacksonville's best hitters are Bert Smith (.371, 0 HRs, 39 RBI, 34 SBs), Todd Cunningham (.352, 10HRs, 39RBI, 21 SBs), and Daniel Adamson (.348-13-53, 12 SBs). They have 5 players with 10 HRs or more, led by Sam Eberle (.277, 16 HR, 60 RBI) and Eberle appears to have the lowest BA of any starter. This group will steal bases, play hit and run, and they can hit plenty of homers. Their BBs combined with the BA stats show they must have some really patient and disciplined hitters. This is a surprisingly potent lineup for a mid-major.
They do play weak competition, but the guys who hit in the .350 range at any school could probably start at a major conference school.
I badly want to see us win this and prove me wrong, but I don't believe it will happen. I think we make it to the last day but lose in the end. I've said almost all season that this is not a team that is complete enough to make it past a Super Regional round, much less a Regional. We'll need our pitchers to come through and the defense to not choke. If we get that then we CAN win it.