The #23 ranked Clemson Tigers head to Statesboro this weekend to face off against the Georgia Southern Eagles. First pitch will be at 7 pm for both Friday and Saturday followed by a 1 pm start on Sunday. All three games can be heard or seen on Clemson's sports website.
After a tough stretch in April the Tigers seem to have found their stride again, taking the last two ACC series against top 10 ranked FSU and NC State respectively. The Tigers have been extremely impressive in their mid-week contest with a 12-1 record on the season, dropping their first and only game against College of Charleston this past week. Overall, the Tigers come into the series with a 32-17 (13-14 ACC) record with only seven games remaining this season. Although the record of this team is not too different than last year at this point, the Tigers lead the nation with 17 wins against teams inside the RPI top 50. Clemson will also have a chance to get back above .500 in ACC play before seasons end as they travel to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame for the last ACC series of the season. To say the least, there is plenty to play for in the last two weeks of the season.
The Tigers offense has been a huge reason for the team’s success this season averaging 6.7 runs per game with 45 homes runs on the season, already 10 more than last season. National player of the year candidate, Seth Beer, has been as advertised leading the Tigers in all major offensive categories as a freshman this season. He is batting .395 (recently fell below .400 mark) with 14 homeruns, one shy of tying Matt Lecroy’s freshman record, and has also added 55 RBI’s. Not far behind Beer is All-American catcher Chris Okey, who had a slow start to the season but has really finished the season strong. He is currently batting .332 with 9 homeruns and 49 RBI’s on the season. The combination of Beer and Okey has really caused opposing pitchers problems this season given teammates like Weston Wilson and Reed Rohlman great opportunities at the plate. Wilson has had a nice season in his own right coming up with several clutch hits throughout the season, mostly recently a walk out single to secure the series win against NC State. Rohlman hasn’t had the power this season, still yet to hit his first homerun, but has still had a really good season batting just under the .300 mark at .293 with 31 RBI’s on the season. The emergence of Chase Pinder this year has been added bonus out of the leadoff spot batting .318 with 9 homeruns and team high 54 runs scored. I think the Tigers offense has been better than expected this season and if the pitcher staff can find itself late in season the Tigers may be able to do some damage in postseason play.
Coach Monte Lee continues to shuffle the weekend rotation around but seems to have found something special in Pat Krall who, in his first start of the season, pitched a complete game allowing only 1 run on 5 hits to earn the win and clinch the series against the Wolfpack. Krall earned pitcher of week for his performance this past Sunday, improving his record to 8-1 with a 0.73 ERA on the season. Krall has pitched mostly out of the bullpen this season but looks like he could become the Tigers go to starter moving forward towards the postseason. Charlie Barnes also had a quality start last weekend tossing 6 innings allowing 4 runs, earning the win to bring his record to 4-4 on the season. My assumption is Coach Lee will still try to mix and match starting pitchers on the weekend to find that 3rd guy behind Barnes and Krall.
Georgia Southern comes into the series with 30-20 record after splitting a mid-week series with North Florida. Georgia State is a respectable opponent with wins against UGA, College of Charleston, and recently taking 2 out 3 against a ranked South Alabama team. The Eagles are led on offense by Ryan Cleveland with a .298 average and team leading 12 homeruns and 49 RBI’s. Logan Baldwin leads the team with .310 average. As a team, Georgia Southern is batting .258 and averaging 5.7 runs per game. The pitching staff has team ERA of 3.82 on the season. Chase Cohen leads the team with an ERA of 2.23 and has 4-2 record.
Probable starting pitchers:
Friday: Charlie Barnes 4-4 5.19 ERA vs. Evan Challenger 5-3 2.38 ERA
Saturday: Pat Krall 8-1 0.79 ERA vs. Chase Cohen 4-2 2.23 ERA