Despite a disappointing series loss to Duke, Clemson rebounded nicely with a walk off win against Western Carolina Tuesday night. Now the Tigers get a chance to measure themselves as they travel to Louisville for a 3 game series against the sixth ranked Cardinals.
Friday Game 1: 6pm EST (Tigercast)
Saturday Game 2: 4pm EST (Tigercast)
Sunday Game 3: 1pm EST (ESPN3)
Clemson will send Clate Schmidt to the mound on Friday night followed by left Charlie Barnes on Saturday. Coach Monte Lee has not named a Sunday starter for the series. Louisville will counter with Brendan McKay, Drew Harrington, and Kyle Funkhouser.
The Cardinals have a 26-7 (10-5) record and are one of the better teams in the ACC, arguably better than Miami. They are led by Devin Hairston and Blake Tiberi who are hitting .383 and .337 respectively. Both players have appeared in all 33 games for Louisville, though several others including Nick Solak have appeared in a majority of games and are hitting north of .400. As a team the Cardinals are hitting .328, good for 4th in the country, and even in some of their losses they are still scoring 5 plus runs. The Cardinals will get their hits and runs, the job of Clemson's pitching staff this weekend will be to limit those opportunities.
But as good as the Louisville hitting is, their pitching staff is just as good. The team has a combined 2.95 ERA, but again teams have had success against them. In 18 of the 33 games this season the Cardinals have allowed 2or fewer runs. Florida State took 2 of 3 from Louisville this past weekend while scoring 12, 1, and 16 runs respectively. Louisville also spotted 7 runs to Kentucky during the week before coming back to win 9-6. Saturday looks to be especially difficult for Clemson with Drew Harrington on the mound. He is undefeated in ACC play and is posting a 0.79 ERA, pretty phenomenal for a starter.
If Clemson can score big it seems to bode well for their chances. It seems like Clemson's strategy for this game is going to have to be to get on the board early and then use the bullpen and some sound defense to hold the lead. The latter may be a little dicey for Clemson, we all remember the Miami game. Several key errors killed the Tigers in that series and a similar performance would end just as poorly.