By Trey McCurry.
Clemson (0-0), ranked as high as #4 in the nation, will open 2011 when it hosts Eastern Michigan (0-0) this weekend in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Game times are 4:00 PM on Friday, 1:00 PM on Saturday, and 1:00 PM on Sunday.
Clemson and Eastern Michigan have met twice on the diamond, with the Eagles holding a 2-0 lead in the series. Both games have taken place in the NCAA Tournament. In 1975, the host Eagles topped the Tigers 5-3 in the opening round of the Mid-East Regional. The following year the teams met in Omaha and Eastern Michigan won 3-2 in 10 innings.
Eastern Michigan, led by third-year Head Coach Jay Alexander, is a member of the Mid-American Conference. The Eagles are coming off a 27-32 season, including a 13-14 record in the MAC. They were picked by MAC coaches to finish third in the MAC West Division in 2011 and received one vote as the overall MAC Champions. Last season, the Eagles recorded a big road wins at West Virginia, a neutral site win over Kansas, and two wins over NCAA Tournament-participant Kent State.
Eastern Michigan returns 19 letterman and seven position starters along with 11 of its 13 pitchers from a season ago. Junior Ben Magsig is the squad’s returning hitter. He hit .331 with 33 runs and 24 RBI along with a team-leading 36 walks last season. Senior Zach Leonard added eight long balls and led the team in RBI (53) and HBP (17) last season. Junior Brent Ohrman and senior Ken Battison are the team’s returning base stealers with 11 and 10 respectively.
The Eagles pitching staff is led by senior lefthander Rob Wendzicki and junior righthander Kendall Lewis. Wendzicki had a 1.93 ERA in 15 appearances of 14.0 innings pitched last season, while Lewis was 7-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 14 starts over 83.1 innings in 2010. Senior righty Corey Chaffins returns as the staff leader in strikeouts (96) and innings pitched (104.1). Sophomore righthanders Taylor Dimmerling and Joe Battistelli return as the staff leaders with appearances (20).
Clemson enters the season-opening weekend ranked as high as #4 nation (by Collegiate Baseball). The Tigers are also ranked #5 (by Sports Weekly) and #10 (Baseball America). Clemson is coming off a 45-25 season in 2010 where they advanced to the College World Series and finished tied for third in the nation after winning the Auburn (AL) Regional and Clemson (SC) Super Regional. The Tigers were picked to win the Atlantic Division and overall ACC Title by the leagues coaches in the 2011 preseason poll.
Clemson returns four position starters, three starting pitchers, and 20 lettermen overall. Among the top returnees are All-ACC outfielder Jeff Schaus, who hit .320 with 15 homers and 87 RBI. Brad Miller is the leading returner in terms of batting average, as he hit .357 with 19 doubles and eight homers. John Hinson hit .351 in 2010 with nine doubles, 17 long balls, and 75 RBI.
The Tiger pitching staff returns most of its arms from 2010. Junior righty Scott Weismann returns as Clemson’s top starter after posting a 9-2 record and 4.90 ERA in 97.1 innings pitched in 2010. Senior righty Alex Frederick returns as the top reliever with a 7-2 record and a 3.75 ERA in 33 appearances over 62.1 innings pitched.
Projected Starting Lineups
C #35 Kyle Peterson (JR/1st season at EMU)
1B #17 Robert Wendzicki (did not appear at the plate last season for EMU)
2B #20 Zack Leonard (SR/.306 BA in 59 games in 2010)
SS #21 Tucker Rubino (JR/1st season at EMU)
3B #23 Ben Magsig (JR/.331 BA in 42 games in 2010)
LF #19 Ken Battiston (SR/.266 BA in 53 games in 2010)
CF #28 Brent Ohrman (JR/.282 BA in 53 games in 2010)
RF #2 Bo Kinder (SR/.273 BA in 49 games in 2010)
DH #33 Daniel Russell (SO/.267 BA in 44 games in 2010)
C #22 Spencer Kieboom (SO/.263 BA in 30 games in 2010)
1B #8 Richie Shaffer (SO/.323 BA in 48 games in 2010)
2B #2 Jason Stolz (JR/.222 BA in 37 games in 2010)
SS #13 Brad Miller (JR/.357 BA in 69 games in 2010)
3B #4 John Hinson (JR/.351 BA in 67 games in 2010)
LF #3 Jeff Schaus (SR/.320 BA in 70 games in 2010)
CF #30 Will Lamb (JR/.289 BA in 52 games in 2010)
RF #26 Chris Epps (SR/.221 BA in 56 games in 2010)
DH #9 Phil Pohl (JR/.212 BA in 35 games in 2010)
Projected Starting Pitchers
In game one, Eastern Michigan will start junior righthander Kendall Lewis. The Huntsville, OH native had a 7-4 record and 4.21 ERA in 14 starts for a total of 83.1 innings pitched in 2010. He allowed 81 hits (.255 opponents’ batting average) and 37 walks with 62 strikeouts.
Clemson will counter with junior righthander Scott Weismann. The Boxborough, MA native had a 9-2 record and 4.90 ERA in 19 appearances (18 starts) for a total of 97.1 innings pitched in 2010. He allowed 102 hits (.268 opponents’ batting average) and 34 walks with 73 strikeouts.
In game two, the Eagles will start senior lefthander Robert Wendzicki. The Brook Park, OH native had a 1-0 record and 1.93 ERA in 15 appearances for a total of 14.0 innings pitched in 2010. He allowed 12 hits (.250 opponent’s batting average) and four walks with nine strikeouts.
The Tigers will counter with sophomore righthander Dominic Leone. The Norwich, CT native had a 3-2 record and 4.78 ERA in 22 appearances (10 starts) for a total of 58.1 innings pitched in 2010. He allowed 69 hits (.292 opponents’ batting average) and 22 walks with 40 strikeouts.
In game three, Eastern Michigan is expected to start sophomore righthander Steve Weber. The North Royalton, OH native had a 2-6 record and 7.20 ERA in 16 appearances (nine starts) for 50.0 innings pitched in 2010. He allowed 57 hits (.291 opponent’s batting average) and 28 walks with 37 strikeouts.
Clemson will counter with sophomore righthander Kevin Brady. The Gaithersburg, MD native had a 1-0 record and 4.58 ERA in 22 appearances (two starts) for a total of 37.1 innings pitched in 2010. He allowed 47 hits (.315 opponents’ batting average) and eight walks with 45 strikeouts.
- Clemson will play 15 of its first 20 games at home.
- The Tigers first 33 games will all take place in the Carolinas.
- Clemson plays 24 of its 55 games against teams that participated in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
2011 Clemson Captains
Five Tigers were voted team captains in 2011. Senior outfield Chris Epps, junior infielder John Hinson, junior infielder Brad Miller, junior catcher Phil Pohl, and graduate righthander Justin Sarratt. Epps and Sarratt were captains in 2010 as well.