#7 Miami Hurricanes (20-5, 7-2 ACC) vs Clemson Tigers (12-12, 3-6 ACC)
Tuesday night we watched Clemson do almost everything right in a 10-5 curbstomping of Georgia in Athens. Aside from one misplayed ball in RF early by Felder, and some elevated pitches from Gossett early in the game, we hardly did anything wrong. UGA's starter had a good season so far but was also elevated, and hung a few too many curveballs that ended up going for doubles with 2 outs. We even manufactured scores in the game a few times, and actually fielded well.
Then Wednesday we came home and faced a terrible Presbyterian (9-17) team, and got our asses beat. Clemson committed 4 errors; 2 in the 4-R 6th and 2 more in a 1-R 7th. Jonathan Meyer didn't pitch too bad (4IP, 2H, 1R), but of course Jack yanked him too early, like Gossett the night before. This team looked like they didn't know anything more about playing defense than a little league squad.
This is not a new thing. Those of us who really follow CU Baseball can see the decline in our defensive fundamentals. Whats worse is that a pitching staff that was said to be our strength, again, can't perform against quality opposition, and a chunk of our lineup really stinks at the plate. I've lamented our plate approach, primarily under former hitting coach Tom Riginos, but I don't see improvement now under LeCroy. I'll be the first to admit that you still have to hit the ball where they aint, but these guys swing at pure shit. I've never been on the Pepicelli bandwagon, and he's proven to be mediocre at best as a pitching coach. Thats what you get when the AD penny pinches and gets you a D-III coach as your new pitching coach. Its not like Kyle Bunn was awesome, certainly not as good as Sully, but he was better than this one. Jack doesn't help their ability to deal with problems by yanking them as soon as they get into a jam either, and it doesn't help build stamina.
Ultimately this coaching staff is responsible for these problems. Whether you think its because of getting whipped by Tanner for in-state recruits or just pisspoor coaching on the field, they need to right this ship quickly if they want jobs next spring. We may not even qualify for the NCAA if we keep this up, even though our schedule is about to get easier. The Tigers rank 175 in the nation in batting and 160th in scoring, and they averaged just 2.75 runs per game in their four losses over the last week. Clemson expected its pitching staff to be outstanding, and it has been rather shitty, ranking 80th nationally in ERA.
Now for Miami.
This is another quality opponent that we get weekly in the ACC. They haven't played the toughest schedule in the world (swept by Florida), but they have some guys that can rake and enough good pitching to make a run in the postseason. Head Coach Jim Morris can at least win a national title (1999, 2001); Jack ain't going to. Miami should've swept Maryland last weekend and F'd it up with 6 errors on Sunday. They're not exactly a shining star defensively, fielding just .963, so I don't expect them to win that 3rd national title this year. However, their staff held Maryland to 1 ER in the first 18 innings. This staff is not as talented as UNC, but still damn good so far.
Clemson AD Series Preview
Clemson and Miami (FL) have met 53 times on the baseball diamond, with the Hurricanes holding a 28-24-1 advantage in the series dating back to the 1977 season. Since the Hurricanes joined the ACC for the 2005 season, the Tigers lead the series 11-7. Jack is 16-16 against Miami at Clemson.
All games this weekend are on ESPN3.
The Tigers won at #18 Georgia by a score of 10-5 on Tuesday before falling at home to Presbyterian College 8-4 on Wednesday.
The Hurricanes, who won two of three games over Maryland at home last weekend and are 3-0 in one-run games, are 5-1 on the road this season. They beat St Thomas 11-4 this week.
In my opinion Leone has done nothing to warrant keeping this rotation spot. He should be replaced.
Sr Catcher Peter O'Brien is the leader of this offense and is absolutely raking the ball so far after transferring to Miami from Bethune-Cookman. His average ranks sixth among ACC hitters. Fieger is a solid hitter to follow him up at .351. Tyler Palmer, a former FL transfer, leads the team with 7 SB. Tresgallo is a good youngster but strikes out quite a bit, as do Perez and Rodriguez.
If Clemson's current pace keeps up, it’ll be the program’s worst hitting season in 40 years. Clemson hit .259 in 1973. Clemson hasn’t hit below .275 since 1976, hitting .318 in 2011 and .306 in 2010.
Wilkerson leads our team with a .387 batting average and is riding a 12-game hitting streak. Shaffer has hit 2 HRs this week already (6) and his average sits at .326 with a .468 OBP. Jason Stolz is still hitting a nice .293 clip and Pohl comes in at .315.
The rest of the lineup has been pretty much dogshit. Jay Baum is respectable at .290 in half the ABs of the rest, but no one with 30ABs+ has an average over .260. I expected Attanasio to hit much much better than he has, at .186 in 43ABs. Some of the other outfielders and the rest of the bottom of our order are the culprits behind our problems with RISP. The top of the lineup still gets on, but no one gets them in after the cleanup spot.
Meyer has been OK out of our bullpen, and pitched 4 against PC. Scott Firth has been an outstanding pitcher out of the pen (1.04 ERA in 17.1IP), as have Mike Kent (1.88 ERA)and Matt Campbell (2.65). The rest have not. JoMo is a headcase as usual as the LOOGY, Haselden is worse and Gossett isn't ready for primetime just yet.
Until we pick one of these guys to take Leone's spot on Saturday, we will not be sweeping anyone on this schedule.
Miami's bullpen has been stellar, even though its against the weaker competition of the ACC. Eric Nedeljkovic, Adam Sargent, and AJ Salcines all have ERAs under 2.00. Erickson's ERA of 3.23 is the highest of the 4 primary starters. E.J. Encinosa has a higher ERA of 3.75 as the closer, with 7 saves. Only 3 guys on this staff have ERAs over 4.00. Clemson has 5, and Patrick Andrews sits a 3.97.
I think we get one of 3, at best.