#7 Sakerlina (6-1) vs. Clemson Tigers (5-2)
The Tigers get their first test of the season with the 3-game set against the Chickens, who put us out of the NCAAs again last year. SC brought back enough offensively and defensively so that they retained a high ranking with new HC Chad Holbrook, who was Tanner's top recruiter and assistant during their entire CWS run. The two of them developed clucker baseball into a national power, and Tanner repeatedly whipped Jack and Riginos in recruiting in-state talent. I think with LeCroy on board we may catch them with the latter, but Holbrook is the secret to their success under Tanner and I don't expect much of a dropoff overall down there.
I'm probably most worried here about our hitting. Clemson's bats have not woken up yet. Both of our weekend opponents and Winthrop controlled our batters fairly well with their starting pitching. Its the bullpens that we've managed to beat up on. If Holbrook is at all like Tanner, he won't have any issue leaving his starters in for 130+ pitches if theyre getting people out, and I don't think we're going to score much.
Clemson's pitching staff has gotten off to a great start, but they're young, and I don't see any reason to think that Clate Schmidt, as talented as he is, should get a start here as a true freshman against SC at a neutral site. I'd rather have him start Friday at home and let Goose take Saturday.
The game will be streamed for free on TigerCast and ESPN3 Friday at Tiger Field, local TV stations around the state are picking up Saturday at Fluor Field, as well as the ESPN3 webcast. Ch. 40 in the Upstate will have it.
Clemson and South Carolina have met 300 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 169-129-2 lead in the series dating to the 1899 season. SC has a 15-6 advantage in the series over the last 5 years. The Tigers hold a 96-42 advantage in the series in games played at Clemson and a 49-25 mark at Tiger Field, including four wins in a row. SC holds an 8-7 lead in neutral site battles, 2-0 at Fluor Field, and a 79-66-2 lead in games in Cola. Jack is 34-38 against South Carolina at Clemson, and he better get UNowned by SC now that Tanner is moving up to AD.
Clemson swept Wright State, and lost to Winthrop (again) 3-2 in 11 innings.
SC defeated Furman 5-2 midweek, and swept Albany by scores of 8-3, 14-1, and 6-4. The 14-1 victory was a No-Hitter by Colby Holmes, Forrest Koumas, and Josh Knab.
Friday, 630pm @ Tiger Field:
Saturday, 2 PM Fluor Field:
Sunday, 3 PM Cola:
Not a whole lot to say at this point in the season, but its been good to see RF Steven Duggar live up to some of the hype I'd heard about him, he's currently 2nd in BA on the team behind Steve Wilkerson. I think OF Maleeke Gibson will as well, that much I could see on TigerCast. I've been pleasantly surprised by 3B Shane Kennedy, a JUCO transfer, who has just come right in and asserted himself in the cleanup spot fairly well.
But I've also been very disappointed with Jon McGibbon. I hope he'll turn it on soon at First. He's too important in the lineup to struggle another season. He'll get passed by someone else if his bat doesn't wake up.
The chickens are led by LB Dantzler, who started this year off with a .524 average.
Half of our pen has been beat on a little, the other half not at all. Meyer's numbers would be better if he wasn't a victim of some bad breaks in his last inning of work last week, but Patrick Andrews was beaten up soundly by W&M in his Saturday start. Crownover started against Winthrop coming off Tommy John surgery but he's going to be a good one here. Kevin Pohle may be available in relief for a couple innings hopefully, because I'm certain we'll need him at some point this weekend. Closer Matt Campbell has been good so far.
Their Closer is senior southpaw Tyler Webb, who has started out with 3.2 scoreless and 6Ks with 3 saves. You could probably write the same thing as with our staff: a few have gotten beaten up and its mostly a younger staff. Not much to take away at this point in the season from statistics.
Clemson is currently fielding better with a half-new infield, but again they havent been tested by a good team.
This will be the first real test for both teams, and theres no guarantee it'll set the tone for either one to win this series. But, if Clemson somehow wins 2 here, it could really light a fire under the young players we're fielding.
I think SC wins the series 2-1 however.