Clemson Prepares For Columbia Regional

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By Sports Department

CLEMSON, S.C. (CU SID) -- Clemson (39-20) is the #2 seed in the Columbia (SC) Regional at Carolina Stadium from May 31 to June 3. Clemson, who also played in the 2012 Columbia Regional, is joined by #1-seeded and host South Carolina (39-18), who is ranked as high as #13 in the country, #3-seeded Liberty (34-27), and #4-seeded Saint Louis (41-19).

The first game of the tourney will pit Clemson against Liberty on Friday at 1:00 PM. The Tigers will be the designated home team against the Flames. South Carolina will then face Saint Louis on Friday at 7:00 PM.

The two losers will play on Saturday at 2:00 PM, while the two winners will play on Saturday at 8:00 PM. The winner of the second game on Saturday will play in the championship round on Sunday at 7:00 PM, while the loser of Saturday’s second game will play the winner of Saturday’s first game on Sunday at 1:00 PM. If the unbeaten team loses on Sunday, the same two teams will play a game on Monday at 7:00 PM to determine the champion.

Both games on Friday will be available via webcast on ESPN3. All the games from Saturday to Monday will be televised by ESPNU and will also be available via webcast on ESPN3. All of Clemson’s games in the regional will also be broadcast live on the radio by Clemson Tiger Sports Network. Live stats will be available at ClemsonTigers.com for all Tiger games as well.

The winner of the Columbia Regional will play the winner of the Chapel Hill (NC) Regional from June 7-10. The four teams in that regional are North Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Towson, and Canisius.

Tigers Earn 38th NCAA Tournament Bid

Clemson will play in its 38th all-time NCAA Regional when it plays in the Columbia (SC) Regional from May 31 to June 3 at Carolina Stadium. The 38 appearances are fifth-most in NCAA history, trailing only Texas (55), Florida State (51), Miami (FL) (42), and Oklahoma State (39).

Clemson’s NCAA Tournament History

The 2013 season marks Clemson’s 38th trip to the NCAA Tournament dating back to the 1947 season. That year, Clemson actually advanced to the Final Eight of the NCAA Tournament, but it is not considered a College World Series season because only two teams went to the CWS in those days.

Clemson won the 1947 District III Tournament in Charlotte by coming through the losers’ bracket. The Tigers, coached by Randy Hinson, lost in the first round to Alabama 8-2, then came back with a win over Auburn and two wins over Alabama to advance. Clemson’s season ended when Yale, led by future President George H.W. Bush, defeated the Tigers in New Haven, CT by a score of 7-3. Bush was 1-for-3 as the starting first-baseman.

Clemson made its first trip to Omaha and the College World Series in 1958 when the Tigers again came through the losers’ bracket. After losing to Florida in the first round, Clemson came back to defeat George Washington, Florida State, and Florida twice to advance under first year Head Coach Bill Wilhelm. Clemson defeated Florida 15-14 and 3-1 on June 9 to advance. Harold Stowe struck out 17 in that second game on June 9, and that is still a Clemson record for strikeouts in an NCAA Tournament game.

The Tigers advanced to Omaha in 1959, this time with three wins (one over Georgia Tech and two over Florida State). One of the wins over the Seminoles was a 24-2 victory at Gastonia, NC. That tally is still tied for the most runs scored by Clemson in an NCAA Tourney game.

The Tigers did not advance to Omaha again until 1976. In fact, Clemson made just one NCAA Tournament appearance between 1960 and 1974. That was in 1967 when Clemson reached the Regional Championship but lost to Auburn 6-5.

Clemson made it to Omaha three out of five years between 1976-80. Clemson won a regional in Columbia, SC in 1976 with three straight wins, then came through the losers’ bracket in Miami (FL) in 1977 to advance to Omaha. The 1980 season was the first year Clemson played host to a regional, as Clemson swept three games by scoring 45 runs, including 17 in a 17-12 win over South Carolina.

Clemson has been to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1987 except one (2008). The Tigers have been to the NCAA Tournament 26 of the last 27 years. Clemson also made College World Series trips in 1991, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2006, and 2010.

Overall, Clemson has been to a regional in 38 seasons (including 2013), fifth-most all-time. Clemson’s all-time record in NCAA Tournament play is 112-81, a 58.0 winning percentage.

Clemson is 67-41 (.620) under Head Coach Jack Leggett in NCAA Tournament play, including a 40-9 record (.816) in home NCAA Tourney games. Leggett has taken Clemson to a regional 19 times in the 20 years he has been Clemson’s head coach, and the Tigers have advanced to the College World Series six times. Leggett has also taken Clemson to a super regional nine of the 14 years that format has been in existence.

Scouting #1-Seeded South Carolina

First-seeded and #13-ranked South Carolina (39-18) enters the Columbia Regional after losing both its games in the SEC Tournament at Hoover, AL. The Gamecocks, who are 28-6 at home, had a 17-12 conference record during the regular season, as it finished second in the SEC Eastern Division standings. The 2013 season marks the 29th time in school history that South Carolina has played in an NCAA Tournament.

South Carolina is led by first-year Head Coach Chad Holbrook. The Gamecocks are 8-8 in one-run games and 8-3 in two-run games. They also have a 28-5 record when outhitting their opponents and are 34-0 when leading entering the ninth inning.

South Carolina is hitting .281 with a .417 slugging percentage and .371 on-base percentage. South Carolina, who is fielding at a .972 clip and has allowed 24 steals in 41 attempts, has also totaled 91 doubles, 13 triples, 47 home runs, 45 hit-by-pitches, 30 sacrifice bunts, and is averaging 5.8 runs per game along with 53 steals in 78 attempts.

LB Dantzler leads the team with a .332 batting average, 15 homers, 48 RBIs, and a .445 on-base percentage. Joey Pankake is hitting .315 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs, while Grayson Greiner is batting .291 with four homers and 35 RBIs. Max Schrock has added a team-high 14 stolen bases as well.

The pitching staff has a 3.03 ERA and .255 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 16 homers and 135 walks against 445 strikeouts, good for a 3.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Senior lefthander Nolan Belcher is 7-5 with a 2.30 ERA and 88 strikeouts against only 15 walks in 105.2 innings pitched over 15 starts. Sophomore lefthander Jordan Montgomery is 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 63.0 innings pitched over 11 starts. Senior lefty Tyler Webb has a team-high 16 saves and a .211 opponents’ batting average along with 52 strikeouts against only 11 walks in 36.1 innings pitched over a team-high 28 relief appearances.

Clemson and South Carolina have met 303 times, with the Tigers holding a 170-131-2 lead in the series that dates to 1899. In their three-game series at three different sites earlier in the 2013 season from March 1-3, the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers 6-0 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The next day at Fluor Field in Greenville, SC, Clemson downed South Carolina 6-3. In the series-finale, South Carolina responded with an 8-0 win at Carolina Stadium.

The Gamecocks lead 80-66-2 over the Tigers in games played in Columbia, including a 6-2 advantage and five straight wins at Carolina Stadium. Jack Leggett has a 35-40 record against South Carolina as Clemson’s head coach, including a 16-19 record in Columbia. He was also 3-8 against the Gamecocks as head coach at Western Carolina, meaning he is 38-48 all-time against South Carolina.

The two teams have met nine times in the NCAA Tournament, as South Carolina leads 6-3, including six wins in a row. Clemson defeated South Carolina 10-4 in the 1976 Atlantic Regional in Columbia, then the Tigers topped the Gamecocks twice in two games in the 1980 Atlantic Regional in Clemson.

The Gamecocks downed Clemson twice in two games in the 2002 College World Series and twice in two games in the 2010 College World Series. In the 2012 Columbia Regional, South Carolina defeated the Tigers twice to advance to the Columbia Super Regional.

Scouting #2-Seeded Clemson

Second-seeded Clemson (39-20) enters the NCAA Tournament coming off three losses in three games in the ACC Tournament at Durham, NC. Clemson was 18-12 during the ACC regular season, finishing third in the Atlantic Division standings. Clemson is making its 26th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 27 years and 38th overall, fifth-most in the nation.

The Tigers, who are 12-8 on opponents’ home fields and 1-3 in neutral-site contests, are led by 20th-year Head Coach Jack Leggett. His 886 wins are tied for sixth-most in college baseball during his tenure. The Tigers are also 8-12 against top-25 ranked teams in 2013.

Clemson, who is averaging 5.5 runs per game, is hitting .278 with a .362 slugging percentage and .363 on-base percentage. Clemson, who has 250 walks against 377 strikeouts, also has 82 doubles, 15 triples, 19 homers, and an ACC-high 110 stolen bases in 149 attempts.

Shane Kennedy leads the team in batting average (.317), runs (45), walks (37), on-base percentage (.413), and stolen bases (22) along with totaling five doubles, four triples, four homers, and 33 RBIs. Garrett Boulware leads the team in homers (8) and RBIs (44) along with hitting .310. Thomas Brittle (19), Steven Duggar (15), Jay Baum (10), and Steve Wilkerson (10) have added double-digit steals as well.

The pitching staff has a 3.17 ERA and .260 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 191 walks against 386 strikeouts, good for a 2.02 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Freshman lefthander Matthew Crownover has a 7-2 record and a 2.05 ERA in 66.0 innings pitched over 14 appearances (13 starts). Sophomore righty Daniel Gossett is 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA, .212 opponents’ batting average, and a team-high 89 strikeouts in 92.1 innings pitched over 15 starts. Junior righthander Matt Campbell has a team-high seven saves, while senior righty Scott Firth has added four saves. Clemson is fielding at a .971 clip as well.

Scouting #3-Seeded Liberty

Third-seeded Liberty (34-27) enters the Columbia Regional after winning the Big South Conference Tournament title in Lynchburg, VA. The Flames, who have yet to play a neutral-site game in 2013, had a 13-11 conference record during the regular season, as they finished fourth in the Big South Conference North Division standings. The 2013 season marks the fourth time in school history that Liberty has played in an NCAA Tournament.

Liberty is led by sixth-year Head Coach Jim Toman, who is a former assistant coach at South Carolina. The Flames are 10-5 in one-run games.

Liberty is hitting .266 with a .373 slugging percentage and .343 on-base percentage. Liberty, who is fielding at a .974 clip and has allowed 25 steals in 49 attempts, has also totaled 93 doubles, 13 triples, 32 home runs, 61 hit-by-pitches, 23 sacrifice bunts, and is averaging 5.0 runs per game along with 83 stolen bases in 105 attempts.

Ashton Perritt is hitting .338 with six homers and 16 steals. Bryan Aanderud is batting .321 with one homer and 37 RBIs, while Trey Wimmer is hitting .303 with 16 doubles, three triples, four homers, and 36 RBIs. Ryan Cordell (26) and Nick Paxton (19) have added double-digit steals as well.

The pitching staff has a 4.06 ERA and .261 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 20 homers and 229 walks against 376 strikeouts, good for a 1.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Junior righthander Josh Richardson is 3-4 with a 2.45 ERA and two saves in 62.1 innings pitched over 22 appearances (seven starts). Sophomore righty Carson Herndon has a 2.73 ERA in 62.2 innings pitched over 12 appearances (11 starts), while senior righthander Brooks Roy is 7-5 with a 3.39 ERA in a team-high 87.2 innings pitched over 15 appearances (14 starts). Perritt, a sophomore righthander, has a team-high nine saves along with a 3-1 record, 1.35 ERA, and .177 opponents’ batting average in 33.1 innings pitched over 20 relief appearances.

Clemson and Liberty have met five times, with the Flames holding a 3-2 lead in the series that dates to 1988. In their last meeting at Liberty in 2000, the Flames downed the Tigers 6-4. Liberty defeated Clemson twice in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in 1999, while Clemson topped the Flames 7-5 in their first meeting in 1988.

The two teams have never met on a neutral field or in the NCAA Tournament. Jack Leggett has a 1-3 record against Liberty as Clemson’s head coach. He was also 3-0 against the Flames as head coach at Western Carolina, meaning he is 4-3 all-time against Liberty.

Scouting #4-Seeded Saint Louis

Fourth-seeded Saint Louis (41-19) enters the Columbia Regional after winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament title in Charlotte, NC. The Billikens won five games in three days, including four wins in the final two days, after losing their tournament-opener to capture the championship.

The Billikens, who are 9-5 in neutral-site games, had a 17-7 conference record during the regular season, as it tied for first in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings. The 2013 season marks the seventh time in school history that Saint Louis has played in an NCAA Tournament. Saint Louis led by sixth-year Head Coach Darin Hendrickson. The Billikens are 8-7 in one-run games.

Saint Louis, the only team in the Columbia Regional with at least 40 wins, is hitting .307 with a .432 slugging percentage and .388 on-base percentage. Saint Louis, who is fielding at a .967 clip and has allowed 56 steals in 72 attempts, has also totaled 108 doubles, 14 triples, 43 home runs, 52 hit-by-pitches, 28 sacrifice bunts, and is averaging 6.3 runs per game along with 64 steals in 92 attempts.

Mike Vigliarolo leads the team with a .347 batting average along with 19 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 40 RBIs, and nine steals. Alex Kelly is hitting .340 with 16 doubles, 11 homers, 60 RBIs, and a .427 on-base percentage, while Grant Nelson is batting .336 with five homers, 32 RBIs, and a team-high .435 on-base percentage. Alec Solé has added a team-high 10 stolen bases as well.

The pitching staff has a 3.58 ERA and .266 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 21 homers and 204 walks against 421 strikeouts, good for a 2.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Senior righthander Alex Alemann has a 6-6 record and 3.36 ERA in 93.2 innings pitched over 15 starts. Junior righthander Clay Smith is 8-2 with a 3.76 ERA with 73 strikeouts against only 16 walks in 91.0 innings pitched over 16 starts. Sophomore righty Nick Bates is 8-3 with a 4.05 ERA in a team-high 93.1 innings pitched over 15 starts. Senior righthander Marco Mejia has a team-high six saves as well.

Clemson and Saint Louis have never met on the diamond.

Polls

The Tigers remained in the top 25 of all three polls after going 0-3 in the ACC Tournament last week. Clemson fell three spots to #17 in the Collegiate Baseball poll and fell four spots to #22 in the Baseball America rankings. The Tigers also dropped six spots to #24 in the USA Today coaches poll.

The top-25 rankings means that Clemson has had at least least one weekly top-25 ranking during all 20 of Jack Leggett’s 20 seasons as head coach at Clemson.

Clemson has had at least one final top-25 ranking in 15 of Leggett’s first 19 seasons in Tigertown. The Tigers have also been ranked #1 for 20 weeks by at least one of the three major polls under Leggett. Their last #1 ranking came on February 12, 2007 by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.

27

That’s how many of Clemson’s 59 games have been against teams that will play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, which equates to 46 percent. Clemson has an 11-16 record against the teams in the field. The Tigers have played eight different teams that are in the NCAA Tournament.

Clemson has played three of the eight national seeds in North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida State for a total of 10 games. The Tigers are 3-7 in those 10 contests. The Tigers are 6-11 against #1 seeds, 3-4 against #2 seeds, and 2-1 against #3 seeds.

Tiger Freshmen Have 16 Wins

One of the keys to Clemson’s 39-win season has been the performance of the freshman pitchers. As a group, the five freshman hurlers are a combined 16-8 for the season with a 3.49 ERA over 216.2 innings pitched.

The 16 victories are fourth-most in Clemson history. The record is held by the 1997 freshmen that had a combined record of 27-13. Leading the way was Ryan Mottl, who had a 10-3 record, still the most wins by a Tiger freshman in one season.

The 1994 freshman staff, led by Kris Benson, had a 21-6 record, while the 1969 staff, led by Dave Van Volkenburg (9-4) and Rusty Gerhardt (7-3), was 19-8.

This year’s freshman group is fourth-best thanks to Matthew Crownover’s 7-2 mark and Zack Erwin’s 5-1 record. Crownover’s seven wins are tied for fourth-most in Clemson history by a freshman. A win in the NCAA Tournament can tie him for third with Scott Parrish, who had eight wins as a freshman in 1981.

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