The 13th ranked Clemson Tiger baseball team is set to square off with the 16th ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama this weekend in the Clemson Super Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The first game of the series, Saturday night, will mark the 24th time the two schools have faced each other on the diamond, and Clemson will be even the overall series record that night, which the Tide currently have with a 12-11 record.
The two teams, who first met in 1919, will face one another for the first time since 1996 which was also an NCAA post season match up, the College World Series. Clemson prevailed in that game, known by some as one of the best in Clemson baseball history, by a score of 14-13.
Alabama, under the leadership of firs year Head Coach Mitch Gaspard, comes into the series at 41-23, and finished SEC regular season play with a 15-15 record despite starting out just 5-10 in conference play. This will be the Tide’s third super regional appearance. The Crimson Tide come in hitting .298 with a .446 slugging percentage and .389 on-base percentage. Alabama has also totaled 116 doubles, 13 triples, 62 home runs, and is averaging 7.1 runs per game along with 67 stolen bases in 91 attempts. Alabama is eighth in the nation in fielding percentage (.978) as well.
The Crimson Tide pitching staff, led by ex-Clemson assistant, Pitching Coach Kyle Bunn, bring with them a 4.81 ERA and .281 opponents’ batting average. Combined, the pitching staff has allowed 201 walks against 498 strikeouts, good for a 2.48-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Tigers come into this weekend with a 41-22 record overall and finished ACC play with an 18-12 regular season record. This will be Clemson’s 23rd NCAA tournament appearance in the last 24 years and it’s 35th overall, and will also be their ninth super regional. The Tiger’s are hitting .306 with a .494 slugging percentage and .405 on-base percentage. Clemson, who has 343 walks, has also stolen 100 bases in 123 attempts and is averaging just at 10 runs per game.
In game-one, Alabama will start junior right-hander Jimmy Nelson (8-3, 3.92 ERA) on the mound. The Niceville, FL native has made 16 starts and one relief appearance for a total of 103.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 101 hits (.256 opponents’ batting average) and 28 walks with 94 strikeouts.
The Tigers will counter with junior left-hander Casey Harman (7-2, 3.95 ERA) on Saturday. The South Burlington, VT native has made 16 starts for a total of 100.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 91 hits (.239 opponents’ batting average) and 31 walks with 86 strikeouts.
Both teams’ starting pitchers for the rest of the super regional have yet to be determined.
As most of you also know by now, this weekends winner earns a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, NE, where that team will face the winner of the Tempe super regional, Arizona State or Arkansas.
All three of this weekends games will be telivised and the game times are Saturday night at 6:00 PM (ESPNU), Sunday night at 7:00 PM (ESPN2) and Monday’s (if necessary) at either 1:00 PM or 7:00 PM (ESPN2).
The Bottom Line
Well, here it is. Do or die here folks. Win two, achieve what every Clemson Tiger baseball team sets out to do that the start of each season. Lose two, however, and unfortunately for this team the season will soon be forgotten by most fans, and folks will be pining for football. This weekends series outcome will be just like all the other series after the midpoint of the season, it all depends on which Tiger team shows up and which Harman and Weismann show up. I know, call me Captain Obvious. You want to know the best part though? The best part is, the Tigers will be hitting on all cylinders this weekend. To get to this situation(hosting a SUPER regional) the Tigers relied on clutch play when it had to have it, clutch pitching when it had to have it, and a bit of luck thrown in. As for the luck, that part can’t be predicted(unless you count bad luck, for me that can always be predicted). However, the clutch performances can be predicted, that all comes or goes with attitude. This team is coming in with a attitude that is great to see this time of the year, and I see the Tigers taking care of this series in just two games. Saturday night’s match up may be over early in favor of the Tigers, but Sunday’s victory will wait until the late innings to take shape.
See you in Omaha!!
Notes from Baseball SID Brian Hennessy:
This is the fourth time since the super-regional format began in 1999 that Clemson has hosted a super regional. It is also the ninth time in the 12 years of super-regional play that the Tigers have made it to this round. Only three schools (Cal State Fullerton (10), Florida State (10), Miami (FL) (10)) have played in more super regionals.
Clemson has advanced to Omaha in all three previous years (2000,02,06) that it hosted a super regional. In 1999 (College Station (TX)), 2001 (Coral Gables (FL)), 2005 (Waco (TX)), 2007 (Starkville (MS)), and 2009 (Tempe (AZ)), the Tigers played in a super regional on the road but failed to advance to Omaha.
The Tigers are 39-8 all-time in home NCAA Tournament games, including a 36-6 record under Head Coach Jack Leggett. Clemson is 25-2 in NCAA Tournament games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the 21st Century, with the only losses coming in a super regional game against Arkansas in 2002 and a regional game against Oklahoma State in 2009.
Clemson committed 50 errors in its first 25 games of 2010 and had a .950 fielding percentage at that time. But in the last 38 games, Clemson has committed just 39 errors and has a .973 fielding percentage during that stretch. The Tigers’ recent success has enabled their fielding percentage to raise to .963 on the season.
Clemson has turned 73 double plays this season, its highest total since 2002 when Khalil Greene was an important factor in the Tigers turning 78 double plays. This year’s total is also fifth-most by a Tiger team in history, as the 1995 team holds the record with 81 double plays.
Senior second-baseman Mike Freeman has played a big role in Clemson turning 73 double plays in 2010. He has been involved in 56 of the 73 double plays. Freeman is also a big reason Clemson is third in the nation and first in the ACC in double plays in 2010.