This series preview is brought to you by a guest writer who will hopefully be joining us to complement our baseball coverage.
For the first time this season and in the Monte Lee era the Tigers are ranked in the top 25 at #20 with an 8-2 record. The Tigers are fresh off a huge series win against the 18th ranked Gamecocks after back to back outstanding pitching performances by Clate Schmidt and Alex Eubanks. Alex Eubanks was named ACC pitcher of the week after pitching 7.2 innings with 8 strikeouts and only giving up 1 earned run. As for the Demon Deacons they come into the series with a 10-3 record after defeating Towson and Richmond respectively over the weekend in their Wake Forest Tournament. Clemson is looking for a little revenge this season as Wake Forest took the season series last year winning 2 out 3. This will mark the first conference series for either team this season.
After losing game one against both Maine and South Carolina, Clemson showed strong resiliency by bouncing back and taking two of three from both teams. The Tigers also have taken care of business by sweeping James Madison and defeating Wofford in a mid-week contest. A pleasant surprise this season has been the pitching by the Tigers, led by Saturday starter Clate Schmidt, who has a 3-0 record and 2.12 ERA thus far. The Tigers pitching staff has held opponents to two runs or less in 7 out 10 games this season and has team ERA of 1.92. Another interesting development to follow, will be what will Coach Lee do with Alex Eubanks moving forward. He had an excellent outing on Sunday against the Gamecocks that would lead you to believe we have found our Sunday starter, but Coach Lee mentioned in his press conference how much he likes Eubanks following Barnes on Friday nights to solidify a much improved bullpen this season.
The Clemson offense has been very strong to start season as well by averaging 7.5 runs per game with a team of average of .295. Center fielder Chase Pinder has been excellent out of the leadoff spot batting .371 and leading the team with four homeruns. True freshman right fielder Seth Beer has contributed early in his career by batting .387 with 3 homeruns and 10 RBI's. Seth had to leave the Sunday's game against South Carolina after cutting his lip by colliding with Chase Pinder but he should be back in the lineup this weekend against Wake Forest. All American Chris Okey's average isn't quite up to his standard at .242 currently, but he has swung the bat well and leads the team with 14 RBI's. Reed Rohlman has also added 9 RBI's of his own with a .351 average.
The Demon Deacons come into series batting .270 as a team, led by Will Craig batting an impressive .475 with 5 home runs and 22 RBI's through 13 games. A few other notable Wake Forest's hitters are Kevin Conway, Gavin Sheets, and Ben Breazeale all with double digit RBI's this season. Wake Forest's pitching staff comes in with team ERA of 3.68 led by weekend starter Drew Loepprich with a 2-0 record and 1.80 ERA.
On Friday night game, it will be LHP Charlie Barnes for Clemson facing off against either Drew Loepprich or Parker Dunshee of Wake Forest. RHP Clate Schmidt will get the Saturday start and face off against either Loepprich or Dunshee as well. The Sunday starter for Clemson is still to be announced but my guess it would go to Alex Eubanks after his strong performance against South Carolina. For Wake Forest on Sunday, it looks to be between Connor Johnstone or Christian Bartholomew to get the start against the Tigers. First pitch this weekend will be at 6pm, 4pm, and 1pm EST respectively. As always you can listen or watch the games through the Clemson Tigers website.