#1 UNC Tarholes (23-1, 7-1 ACC) vs. Clemson Tigers (16-9, 5-4 ACC)
I don't put too much stock in UNC's record, because they've played just about the easiest road so far you could play. Their SOS is ranked 114 in Division 1 currently, though they have a #5 RPI. The best wins they have are over Rice, a 2-1 series over Miami, and a midweek win against Coastal. Clemson has faced the #13 SOS with an RPI value of #34 currently. Not that it matters much at this point in the season.
Still, UNC is always a force on the mound, and their bats have grown up from a low point 2 seasons ago. I do not think Clemson will win this series on the road.
Clemson AD Series Preview -- UNC AD series preview
Sunday's game will be televised by regional networks and will be available via webcast on ESPN3. Monday's game will be televised by ESPNU.
Clemson and North Carolina have met 181 times, with the Tigers holding a 96-84-1 lead in the series dating to the 1901 season. The Tar Heels have won the last seven games in the series, their longest winning streak in series history. Last season at Tiger Field, the Tar Heels swept the three-game series by a combined score of 15-11, which included two one-run wins. In 2011 at Boshamer Stadium, the Tar Heels swept the Tigers by a combined score of 27-12. The Tar Heels hold a 41-36 lead in games played at North Carolina. Jack is 31-28 against UNC.
Clemson split the midweek series with UGA, letting the pups break their 9 game losing streak on Wednesday by a score of 5-3, with numerous baffling decisions made by Jack. Clemson thumped the dawgs 9-1 in Athens.
Clemson took 2 of 3 against Duke at home last weekend.
UNC beat Winthrop 6-2 and VCU 3-2 this week, and took 2 against Boston College last weekend at home after the series was moved to Chapel Hill due to snow. Clemson lost to Winthrop 3-2 earlier this year.
Monday's starter is up in the air due primarily to Firth's lack of success the last couple weekends. He pitched in relief, along with Erwin, on Wednesday night. I would suspect Firth still gets it from experience, but Erwin is pitching his way into the rotation. Matt Crownover is on a strict pitch count, but is an option.
CU's batting average has jumped about 20 points in the last few weeks, and as you see below the lineup averages have come up to an acceptable level across the board. The one thing that seems to elude us is the correct leadoff guy: Baum, Brittle, Wilkerson, and Slaton have all led off in just the last couple weeks. Slaton lost his job to Maleeke Gibson earlier this year and has reclaimed it since Gibson couldn't hit, so that is why his stats are lower compared to the rest of the lineup.
No word on why guys like Matt Reed, Campana, Triller, Costigan, Reader, etc. can't get ABs. Jack prefers Kevin Bradley as his top pinch guy at the moment.
Clemson has allowed 24 steals out of 30 attempts - ouch. We have turned 26 DPs this year, a very good stat.
UNC's 3-4-5 batters will be particularly difficult for us to get through, and all are hot coming into the weekend.
Freshman lefthander Zack Erwin has a 2-0 record, one save, a 1.50 ERA, and a .167 opponents' batting average in 18.0 innings pitched over 10 relief appearances. I thought Jack should've started him against UGA, but he ended up pitching in middle relief of Koerner. He and Kyle Schnell (1-0, 1.72 in 15.2IP) have been very solid of late from the pen, as Matt Campbell has not regained the form of last season as Closer. Campbell has been really beaten up in the last few weeks.
I'm still struggling on why certain guys aren't getting innings compared to those that do. Apparently Jack still believes that JoMo is a lefty specialist -- HE AINT. He sucks against both handed batters. Jackson Campana should be getting at least a few DH at-bats and innings. Jonathan Meyer still gets innings despite his suckage, and Wales Toney is nowhere to be seen. Apparently he's destined for a RS, along with Pohle.
UNC sophomore righty Trevor Kelley has one save and has pitched 14.0 innings over a team-high 12 appearances, all out of the bullpen. He has given up just two runs (1.29 ERA), four hits (.089 opponents' batting average), and four walks with 11 strikeouts.
Only two UNC relievers have ERAs over Hobbs Johnson's 3.48, and the next highest is Reilly Hovis' 2.45. Most of the pen has an ERA under 2.00. The top 3 relievers are McCue (1.59 in 17IP), Kelley, and Chris Munnelly (1.23 in 14.2IP)....so we may wanna put the bats in an oven.