Louisville (29-15, 9-12 ACC) vs. Clemson (28-17, 11-10 ACC)
Friday - 4:00 PM (ACCNX)
Saturday - 2:00 PM (ACCNX)
Sunday - 12:00 PM (ACCNX)
After a week off for finals, the Tigers are back in action hosting the Louisville Cardinals for a weekend series that will have big ramifications for the ACC Atlantic division. After the big series win over Boston College, Clemson finds itself sitting 4th in the division, behind BC and Notre Dame who are tied for second (behind Wake Forest). With Boston College facing #2 Wake Forest and Notre Dame facing NC State, it’s absolutely in play that the Tigers could find themselves second in the division by the end of the weekend.
The Cardinals are sitting just behind Clemson at 5th in the division and will certainly be looking to overtake the Tigers this weekend. Last weekend, Louisville dropped 2 of 3 at home to Miami before rebounding with a midweek win over in-city foe Bellarmine at Louisville Slugger Field, the home of the Louisville Bats, the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Despite their losing ACC record, the Cardinals have had some big wins over ranked competition, include a sweep last month of Boston College, a win over #10 Kentucky, and a win in their series with Wake Forest.
In an interesting move, neither team has announced starting pitchers for this series. While this may just be Erik Bakich playing it close the the vest, one has to wonder if there isn’t potential for Ryan Ammons to crack the line up. Ammons made his return from injury in April in a relief role in a one-run midweek loss to UGA. While he is certainly chomping at the bit to get a start, you also have to consider the Darden, Gordon, Grice weekend rotation has been pretty successful for you in the last few series and this may not be the time to make the change, even if it is in favor for your ace. Nevertheless, it is something to keep an eye on.
Earlier we talked on the division standings, but there are other implications for this series. Through Clemson’s hot streak, the Tigers are back in the tourney picture. Currently D1 Baseball has Clemson as the #2 seed in the Columbia regional with South Carolina, Wofford, and Davidson. Baseball America has the Tigers as the #2 seed in the Conway regional with Coastal Carolina, Auburn (because Clemson athletics always has to get paired with Auburn) and Air Force. Now, while a regional showdown with the Gamecocks would be fun, and a good opportunity for revenge, the Conway regional feels much more manageable. The more the Tigers can win, the better that tournament path is going to be. It’s even possible that Clemson could find itself hosting a regional, which was unthinkable just a month ago.
Friday’s game has been moved up to 4pm for inclement weather. Sunday looks like a beautiful day for baseball at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Saturday may have some rain, so as always, keep an eye out for rescheduling. It’s also graduation weekend in Tiger Town, so be prepared for more traffic. And to all our graduating Tigers, congratulations! Enjoy yourselves this weekend and maybe celebrate your big day by taking in a great series of Clemson baseball.