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Clemson vs. Duke Preview

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First pitch will be at 6 pm Friday, followed by 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday. All games can be seen or heard on Clemson's sport website.

The #16 ranked Tigers head to Durham this weekend after picking up a come from behind win at Georgia on Tuesday, still undefeated in mid-week games, improving their record to 22-7 (7-5 ACC). Seth Beer continues to come through time after time for the Tigers this season, his latest hitting a game tying solo home run in the 8th to lead the charge for a Tigers comeback victory. He already has 13 home runs on the season just over the midway point, two shy of the 15 home run freshman record held by Matt Lecroy. Beer was named to Perfect Game's mid-season All-American team this week as well as being mentioned as an early finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. Not to mention he is on a current 25 game hitting streak, quite remarkable considering Beer should be playing his senior season of high school baseball right now. Another player who has stepped up as of late is Chris Okey, who has brought his average up to .348 on the season. He is also second on the team in RBI's with 28, only trailing Beer. The combination of Okey and Beer in the 3 and 4 slots has made life extremely difficult for opposing pitchers. Overall, the Tigers offense has been one of the best in the ACC averaging 7.3 runs per games with a team average .287 and 34 home runs on season. Expect the Tigers to continue their offense momentum as they travel to Durham this weekend.

On the other hand, the two biggest questions marks for the Tigers halfway through the season is the starting pitching and defense. The Tigers must find consistency in their starting pitching to give the bullpen some much needed relief. Last weekend alone the bullpen pitched a total of 11.2 innings in 3 games. They held up well in games 1 and 3 allowing 0 runs, led by Pat Krall who was named ACC Co-Pitcher of the week. Overall, the team as an ERA of 3.60 and allowing opposing team to bat .243. Meanwhile, the Clemson defense is fielding .961 on the season. Duke has one of the largest fielding areas in the ACC, the defense will need to be extra focused to not allow any easy runs this series. Defensive play could have a huge impact on this series.

Duke comes into the series with a 15-14 (4-8 ACC) record on the season. The Blue Devils are hitting just .252 on season as a team, led by Justin Bellinger with .410 average. A couple other notable hitters for Duke are Chris Proctor who is batting .313 on the season and Zack Kone who leads the team with 4 home runs and 25 RBI's. Clemson starting pitchers will need to attack the zone early and make the Duke hitters prove they can beat them. As for the pitching staff, Duke has a team ERA of 3.71 and a fielding percentage of .974. Also, the Tigers offense will need to be patient at the plate and wait for a pitch to hit as the Duke staff has walked a total of 107 batters on the season.

This is a must win series for the Tigers with the next 4 ACC series coming against ranked opponents. It would be huge to get a sweep against the Blue Devils but at minimum Clemson needs to win 2 out 3 with hopes of hosting a regional in the future. Look for the offense to continue to produce but keys this weekend will be starting pitching and defense.

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Friday: Clate Schmidt 5-0 4.38 ERA (CU) vs. Baily Clark 2-3 5.40 ERA (Duke)

Saturday Charlie Barnes 2-3 5.26 (CU) vs. Trent Stewart 1-1 2.77 ERA (Duke)

Sunday: TBA (CU) vs. Brian McAfee 4-2 4.02 ERA (Duke)