Event: #10 Clemson vs. #11 Louisville
Location: Jim Patterson Stadium
Time: Friday 6pm, Saturday 1pm, Sunday 1pm
Video: Acc Network extra (WatchESPN)
Audio: Clemson Tigers Radio Network, Tigercast
Pitchers: (Fri.) Jacob Hennessy vs. Adam Wolf, (Sat.) Brooks Crawford vs. Shay Smiddy, (Sun.) Jake Higginbotham vs. Nick Bennett
For the first time this season, Clemson will play a baseball game outside the state of SC, as they head to Kentucky to take on divisional foe Louisville. The Cardinal are coming off a school record 53-12 season, which saw them win another Atlantic Division title and return to Omaha.
The Cardinals are lead by 12th year Head Coach Dan McDonnell, who has lead the Cardinals to 4 CWS appearances, 7 supers regionals, and 8 regular season conference championships.
Offensively, Louisville is led by Sophomore Logan Wyatt (.333 1 HR 17 RBI) who co-shared ACC Player of the week with Seth Beer last week, and Junior Devin Mann (.310 2 HR 27 RBI). The Cardinals also boast three players Jake Snider, Josh Stowers, and Tyler Fitzgerald who all have +10 Stolen Bases to their credit already.
Louisville’s pitching is lead by All-American closer Sam Bordner ( 1-0 0.82 ERA), Sam has only given up 3 runs in his last 54 2⁄3 innings pitched, and Louisville is 65-0 when leading after 8 innings dating back to last year.
Starting Pitching is lead by Friday lefty starter Adam Wolf (3-0 1.80 ERA) 38 Ks in 30 IP. Followed by Right-hander Shay Smiddy (2-0 2.04 ERA) who’s just making his third start, after starting the season in the pen, and Sundays starter lefty Nick Bennett (1-0 3.60 ERA) who will make his first start of the season.
Clemson and Louisville have both had similar seasons so far. Louisville started the season 14-0, being the last team in the country to remain undefeated, but have lost 4 out of 7 including a series lost to Wake Forest last weekend. Clemson was 16-1, before embarking on their current 4 game losing streak. To make matters worse Louisville has swept the series between these two teams the last two seasons, and won 8 out of the last 11 between the two. Did we mention the Cardinal have only lost one conference home series since joining the ACC, and Clemson has never beat Louisville at Jim Patterson stadium.
Now, now come back from the cliff not all is doom and gloom. The Good news for this weekend is both teams are evenly matched on paper. The starting pitching is even, Louisville doesn't have the great ace and starter depth like the last couple of seasons. Offensively Louisville has been more consistent than Clemson's offense, but the potential is there for the Tigers, and what better weekend to break out than this.
Clemson was eventually due for a bad streak, it’s a long season and the Tigers kept getting away with small things and kept capitalizing on inferior teams walks and errors. The key to the series this weekend is Clemson has to get out to early leads, and not wait until late to get going offensively. If they’re behind after 8 innings, game over. Pitching cannot afford walks, Louisville doesn't have a lot of homers, but they strive off walks, stolen bases, and moving guys over. They're a well oiled small ball offense.
Clemson doesn't have to win the series for this weekend to be successful, but CANNOT afford to be swept. The Tigers need to play three competitive games unlike last weekend. Maybe they can get some of that Clemson Grit that the basketball team has found. We’ll learn a lot about the psyche and makeup of the team this weekend and just how far they might go this season, the great news is this team has yet to reach its full potential.
Prediction: Tigers take 2 out of 3, and get back on track.