Matchup: Dallas Baptist Patriots (3-0) at Clemson Tigers (4-0)
First Pitch: Friday-4:00 PM, Saturday-1:00 PM, Sunday-1:00 PM
Audio: ClemsonTigers.com TigerCast, Clemson Tiger Radio Network
Video Stream: ACC Network Extra on WatchESPN (broadcast for Friday's and Sunday's games, not Saturday)
Series History: First Meeting
Starting Pitchers: FRI- MD Johnson vs Jacob Hennessy, SAT-Jordan Martinson vs Brooks Crawford, SUN-Luke Eldred vs Jake Higginbotham
Who is Dallas Baptist?
To a casual fan, Dallas Baptist may seem like just another run of the mill mid-major team. And that assumption isn't unfounded as Dallas Baptist athletics compete in Division Two in all sports except for one: baseball. And the Patriots have made some noise in the college baseball since their coach Danny Heefner took over in 2007. In his eleven years at the helm, DBU has appeared in seven NCAA tournaments, won three MVC titles, and produced forty-three MLB draft picks, including 2016 World Series MVP Brian Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs. In 2011 the Patriots emerged from the Fort Worth, TX regional (TCU) to earn an appearance in Santa Clara Regional against Cal (the Golden Bears played the game at Santa Clara University instead of Berkley because their own stadium lacked the lights and necessities for ESPN's crew). In 2015, DBU hosted the Dallas Regional, where the Patriots fell to fourth seed VCU in the final game. The 2018 Patriots come in ranked sixteenth in D1 Baseball's rankings and eighteenth in the Coaches' poll.
DBU comes in at 3-0 with an opening weekend sweep of Monmouth. The Patriots' scheduled game with instate foe Baylor was cancelled Tuesday. RS junior Tim Millard is currently the top hitter after opening weekend. The Flower Mound, TX product comes in with a .455 batting average, .538 on base percentage, 1.182 slugging percentage, and two home runs. Milliard finished the 2018 season with a .308 average and twelve home runs. Fellow Flower Mound product Hanna Jameson also is also a threat. Jameson is currently batting .400 and led the Patriots in steals last season with nine.
MD Johnson finished last year as third on the team in strikeouts with fifty seven. The right handed junior went 6-2 with a 4.43 ERA in 2017. Last weekend he got the win, going five innings while surrendering one run and striking out five. The sophomore lefty Jordan Martinson led the team in strikeouts in 2017 with seventy-six. Sunday's starter Luke Eldred is a redshirt freshman. In his first career appearance, he got the win, going five innings with five strikeouts in DBU's 15-4 win.
Eye on the Tigers.
As expected, Monte Lee did a little shuffling with the lineups over the past four games, particularly with Seth Beer. After batting third during opening weekend, Beer got moved up to the two hole, putting Patrick Cromwell at third and keeping Chris Williams at clean up. Beer went 2-3 Tuesday, while Cromwell went 3-4. It'll be interesting to see not only if Monte tinkers with the lineup by Friday, but also how DBU pitches to Beer depending on his spot in the lineup (spoiler alert: they'll still mostly try to pitch around him).
Spencer Strider showed a lot of potential in his three innings of relief last Saturday, so watch for him to get the call at some point this weekend, particularly Friday. Hennessy went 4.2 innings as a starter Friday. With him still transitioning from a closer to a starter, expect similar innings this week, which could give Strider Friday night.
Jake Higginbotham looked exceptional in Sunday's 2-1 win over William & Mary. Higginbotham went 5.1 innings and gave up one run in his first appearance after missing all of last year with an injury. With a series with a ranked team like DBU, it's very possible that Sunday's game may be a rubber match, so hopefully Higginbotham can give a similar performance.