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Baseball Takes On UNC Asheville Friday Night in NCAA Regional

Baseball Takes On UNC Asheville Friday Night in NCAA Regional

June 1, 2006

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Clemson (47-14) is the #1 national seed for the 2006 NCAA Tournament. That means Clemson will host a regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium from June 2-5. It is the first time the Tigers have been the #1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. In 2002, Clemson was the #2 national seed on its way to the College World Series.

The Tigers will open up against #4-seed UNC Asheville (28-33) on Friday at 7:00 PM. Second-seeded Elon (44-16) and #3-seed Mississippi State (35-21) will play Friday at 3:00 PM. The two losers will play Saturday at 3:00 PM, while the two winners will play Saturday at 7:00 PM. The winner of the second game Saturday will play in the championship round Sunday at 7:00 PM, while the loser of the second game Saturday will play the winner of the first game Saturday at 3:00 PM on Sunday. If the unbeaten team loses Sunday night, the same two teams will play a game on Monday at 7:00 PM to determine the Clemson Regional champion.

The winner of the Clemson Regional will play the winner of the Fayetteville (AR) Regional from June 9-12. The four teams in that regional are #1-seed Oklahoma State, #2-seed Arkansas, #3-seed Oral Roberts, and #4-seed Princeton.

Clemson To Play Regional Host for 11th Time Clemson was one of 16 schools selected to play host to an NCAA Regional for the 60th-annual Division I Baseball Championship. The action will begin at Clemson’s Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Friday. Four teams, including Clemson, will play in the Clemson Regional with two games each day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. An “if necessary” game would be played on Monday.

Clemson was one of four ACC schools chosen to host a regional in the 64-team tournament. The other ACC schools are Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Virginia. Five SEC teams will play host to regionals, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi. Big 12 teams Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas were chosen, while Rice, Cal. State-Fullerton, Oregon State, and Pepperdine were also selected.

This is the 11th time since 1975 that Clemson has played host to a regional, second among this year’s schools, trailing only the 22 years by Texas. This is the second consecutive year that Clemson has played host to a regional and the ninth time in 13 years under Head Coach Jack Leggett.

Clemson has advanced to a super regional or the College World Series through a regional tournament played at Clemson nine times, including each of the last six times Clemson has played host to a regional.

The Tigers are 30-7 all-time in home NCAA Tournament games, including a 27-5 record under Leggett. Clemson is 16-1 in NCAA Tournament games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the 21st Century, with the only loss coming in a super regional game against Arkansas in 2002.

This will be the 10th time since 1988 that Clemson has been the #1 seed for a regional tournament, the seventh time Clemson has played host to a regional as a #1 seed. Clemson is 19-2 under Leggett as a #1 seed at home, with the only losses coming in 1994 to Notre Dame and Auburn.

Since the NCAA began seeding teams for the NCAA regionals in 1988, Clemson has a 26-6 record as a #1 seed, including an active victory streak of 17 consecutive games dating to the 1995 season, Leggett’s first year.

Clemson enters the NCAA Tournament having won 19 of its last 20 games, including the ACC Championship in Jacksonville on Sunday when it defeated N.C. State in the championship game by a score 8-4. This is Clemson’s best record in its final 20 games entering the NCAA Tournament in history. The 1947 and 1991 Clemson teams were 18-2 in their final 20 games prior to the NCAA Tournament. Both of those teams advanced to the Final Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

This is Clemson’s 20th consecutive year in the NCAA Tournament, the third-longest active streak in the nation. Miami (FL) and Florida State, also from the ACC, are the only other schools with longer active streaks. Overall, this will be Clemson’s 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the sixth-most appearances in NCAA history. Texas is the all-time leader, as the Longhorns will make their 50th appearance this year.

Clemson’s NCAA Tournament History The 2006 season marks Clemson’s 32nd trip to an NCAA Regional 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 a Yale team, led by future President George 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 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 and that is still a Tiger single-game record for strikeouts in an NCAA Tourney game.

The Tigers advanced to the CWS in 1959, this time with three easy wins; one over Georgia Tech and two over Florida State. One of the wins over the Seminoles was a 24-2 victory in 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, making College World Series trips in 1991, 1995, 1996, 2000, and 2002. Clemson’s streak of 20 consecutive regionals is the third-longest active streak in the nation behind Miami (FL) (34) and Florida State (29). Clemson’s streak is also the third-longest in NCAA history.

Overall, Clemson has been to a regional in 32 seasons (including 2006), sixth-best all-time. Clemson’s all-time record in NCAA play is 88-66, a 57.1 winning percentage.

Clemson is 43-26 (.623) under Head Coach Jack Leggett in NCAA Tournament play, including a 27-5 record in home NCAA Tourney games. Leggett has taken Clemson to a regional all 13 years he has been Clemson’s head coach, and the Tigers have advanced to the College World Series four times. Leggett has taken Clemson to the Super Regional five of the seven years that format has been in existence.

Scouting #1-Seed Clemson Top-seed and #2-ranked Clemson (47-14) enters the NCAA Tournament coming of the ACC Tournament title, going 4-1 in five games to capture the championship. Clemson was 24-6 during the ACC regular season, finishing in first place in both the Atlantic Division and overall standings. The 24 victories set a school and league record for most conference wins. Clemson is making its 20th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.

The Tigers, who are 31-5 at home, are led by 13th-year Head Coach Jack Leggett. His 555 wins through the first 12 seasons is the sixth-most in college baseball during his tenure. Clemson has won 19 of its last 20 games. The Tigers are also 23-7 against top-25 ranked teams in 2006.

The team is hitting .305 and is led by Tyler Colvin, who is hitting .360 with 21 doubles, five triples, 12 homers, 63 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases along with a current 20-game hitting streak. Brad Chalk is hitting .351 with a .469 on-base percentage, while Andy D’Alessio is hitting .316 with 20 home runs and 75 RBIs.

The pitching staff has a 3.19 ERA and .244 opponents’ batting average. The starting weekend rotation of Jason Berken, Stephen Faris, and Josh Cribb have combined for a 26-5 record and 2.61 ERA in 45 appearances (44 starts). Berken is scheduled to start Friday’s game for the Tigers. Daniel Moskos has a team-best nine saves along with a 2.31 ERA in 29 relief appearances. Clemson is fielding at a .972 clip as well, ahead of the school record of .971 (2002).

Scouting #2-Seed Elon Second-seed Elon (44-16) enters the Clemson Regional after going 2-2 in the Southern Conference Tournament. The Phoenix, who are 20-13 in games away from home, had a 21-6 record during their conference regular season. The 2006 season marks the second time in school history they have played in an NCAA Tournament. In 2002, they played in the Clemson (SC) Regional.

Elon is led by 10th-year Head Coach Mike Kennedy. The team won 20 of its final 23 regular-season games. Elon is hitting .305 with a .410 on-base percentage and 76 steals in 100 attempts. It has drawn 305 walks and 90 hit-by-pitches. The team is fielding at a .971 clip as well.

Chris Price is hitting a team-best .352 with 18 doubles, 12 homers, and 61 RBIs, while Robert Rodebaugh is hitting .347 with 21 doubles, 10 home runs, and 58 RBIs. Chris Vasami, a transfer from Notre Dame, is also hitting .327 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs. Ryan Addison is a perfect 21-21 on stolen bases as well.

The pitching staff has a 4.60 ERA and .283 opponents’ batting average. Senior righthander Matt Chastain is 10-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 15 starts (100.0 innings pitched). Senior righty and closer Chad Tilley has a 5-0 record, 1.98 ERA, and 10 saves in 28 relief appearances. He has also struck out 38 and allowed only six walks in 41.0 innings pitched.

Clemson and Elon have met nine times (all at Clemson) on the diamond, with Clemson winning five of the nine games. In 1920, Elon defeated the Tigers 6-3. The two teams did not meet again until 80 years later, when Clemson came away with a 17-5 victory in 2000.

In 2002, Elon upset the top-ranked Tigers 8-6. Then on May 7, 2003, Elon came away with an 11-2 victory. In 2004, the two teams played two games. Clemson won the first game 10-6, while Elon won game two 7-1. In 2005, Clemson won the only meeting 9-6 on April 26 thanks to nine walks and four Phoenix errors. In 2006, Clemson swept a two-game, midweek series by scores of 5-3 and 7-4.

Head Coach Jack Leggett is 5-3 against Elon while at Clemson and was 1-3 while at Western Carolina, therefore is 6-6 all-time against the Phoenix.

Scouting #3-Seed Mississippi State Third-seed Mississippi State (35-21) is coming off a season in which it did not play in the SEC Tournament, but made the NCAA Tournament thanks to a strong RPI. The team started the season 18-0 before going 17-21 in its final 38 regular-season games. The Bulldogs, who are 11-14 in games away from home, are making their 27th NCAA Tournament appearance, tied for 12th-most in NCAA history.

Mississippi State is led by 27th-year Head Coach Ron Polk, whose 1,310 wins as a head coach at a Division I program ranks fourth-best all-time in NCAA history. Polk also served a brief stint as head coach at Georgia in between two different stints at Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs are hitting .307 with a .393 on-base percentage and 45 stolen bases in 54 attempts. Thomas Berkery is hitting a team-best .393 with seven homers and 43 RBIs, while Jeffrey Rea is batting a.360 with 12 stolen bases. The team is fielding at a .961 clip as well.

The pitching staff has a 4.19 ERA and .276 opponents’ batting average. It has also allowed just 152 walks with 384 strikeouts, good for a 2.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Senior lefty Brooks Dunn has a team-high eight wins along with a 4.36 ERA in 14 starts. Senior righty Brett Cleveland has a team-high five saves in 21 relief appearances. He has also allowed just three walks with 27 strikeouts in 31.0 innings pitched. Clemson and Mississippi State have met 10 times on the baseball diamond. The Tigers hold a 7-3 lead, with only two of 10 games coming at Clemson. In both games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the 2000 Clemson Super Regional, the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs by scores of 11-4 and 9-4 to advance to the College World Series. Those were the last two meetings in the series.

In 1991, Clemson downed Mississippi State 10-9 in an NCAA Regional at Orono, ME. Clemson also played in a regional at Starkville, MS in 1992, but did not face the Bulldogs. The other seven previous meetings all took place in Starkville, with the Tigers winning four of the seven matchups.

Jack Leggett is 2-0 against the Bulldogs as Clemson’s head coach and was 1-2 as Western Carolina’s skipper, meaning he is 3-2 all-time against Mississippi State.

Scouting #4-Seed UNC Asheville Fourth-seed UNC Asheville (28-33) enters the Clemson Regional after winning the Big South Conference championship. After amassing a 10-14 conference mark during the regular season, the Bulldogs went 4-1 in their conference tournament to earn the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA field. It is their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament as well.

UNC Asheville, led by second-year Head Coach Willie Stewart, has played a remarkable 40 of its 61 games away from home, as it is 10-24 on opponents’ home fields and 5-1 in neutral-site games. The Bulldogs played their first 17 games of the season on the road, and have played their last 10 games away from home.

The team is hitting .296 with a .368 on-base percentage and 51 stolen bases in 74 attempts. It has totaled 46 sacrifice bunts, including 15 by Steve Burnich. UNC Asheville is fielding at a .958 clip as well.

Elliott Arrington is hitting a team-best .349 with 23 doubles, seven homers, and 46 RBIs, while Rob Vernon is batting .339 with seven homers and 35 RBIs. Kevin Mattison is hitting .330 with eight homers, 42 RBIs, and a team-high 13 stolen bases.

The pitching staff has a 5.91 ERA and .315 opponents’ batting average. Sophomore righthander Alan DeRatt is 8-4 with a 4.71 ERA in 109.0 innings pitched, while junior lefty Chris Nigro is 5-10 with a 5.76 ERA in 95.1 innings pitched. Nigro is slated to start Friday’s contest against Clemson. Freshman lefty Jordan Dorsett has a 2.25 ERA in 18 relief appearances, and sophomore righty Ben Buchanan has six of the team’s seven saves.

Clemson and UNC Asheville have met just twice on the diamond, with the Tigers winning both games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. On April 15, 1998, Clemson won 14-6. Then on March 19, 2002, the Tigers were victorious 23-5 behind three hits by Khalil Greene, three hits (two homers) and six RBIs by Jeff Baker, and four hits and three RBIs by Michael Johnson.

Jack Leggett is 2-0 against the Bulldogs as Clemson’s head coach and was 14-2 as Western Carolina’s skipper, meaning he is 16-2 all-time against UNC Asheville.

Worth Noting * Clemson has a 22-4 record in night games, and is hitting .325 with a .545 slugging percentage in night games.

Polls Clemson remained at #3 in the Baseball America poll on Monday after winning the ACC Tournament title from May 24-28. The Tigers also stayed at #3 in the Collegiate Baseball poll and #2 in the Sports Weekly poll.

The Tigers’ #1 ranking by Baseball America on February 6, which Clemson held on to for a total of four weeks, was their first since May 13, 2002, when Clemson was ranked #1 in all three major polls. It was the earliest #1 ranking for the Clemson program in history, as the earliest #1 ranking prior to that was on March 20, 2000, when Collegiate Baseball had the Tigers #1. The Tigers have been ranked #1 for 19 weeks by at least one of the major polls in Head Coach Jack Leggett’s 13 seasons at Clemson.

Clemson Ranked in Top Three in All Three Polls Clemson is ranked in the top three in the nation in all three college baseball polls entering the 2006 NCAA Tournament. This is the first time since 2002 that has been the case. That year, Clemson was ranked #4 by Sports Weekly, #5 by Baseball America, and #7 by Collegiate Baseball.

This is the first time since 1994 that Clemson has been a unanimous top-three team entering the NCAA Tourney. That year, Clemson was #1 in all three polls entering the tourney. However, Clemson was upset at its own regional by Notre Dame and Auburn, and failed to reach Omaha.

Overall, this is the ninth time since 1987 that Clemson has been a unanimous top-10 team entering the NCAA Tournament. Clemson has advanced to the College World Series in five of the previous eight seasons that has been the case.

This is the sixth time under Head Coach Jack Leggett that Clemson has been a unanimous top-10 team entering the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have reached the College World Series four of the previous five times, including each of the last four.

33 That’s how many of Clemson’s 61 games have been against teams that will play in the 2006 NCAA Tournament this season, which equates to over 54 percent. Clemson has a 23-10 record against the teams in the field, including a 14-2 record in games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Kansas and Winthrop have been the only NCAA Tournament teams to defeat Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in 2006.

The Tigers have played 11 different teams that are in the tournament, and all 11 are either #1 or #2 seeds. Clemson has played top-eight national seeds Georgia Tech and Georgia a total of eight games with a 4-4 record in those games.

Between March 3 and April 5 of 2006, Clemson had a stretch of 19 games against NCAA Tournament teams in a 21-game stretch. Clemson had a 14-5 record in those 19 games.

Winningest Tiger Teams Entering NCAA Clemson has a 47-14 record entering the NCAA Tournament. The 47 wins rank in a tie for the seventh-most wins in Clemson history for a Tiger team entering the NCAA Tournament, and the most since the 2002 team also had a 47-14 record entering the tourney. The all-time record is 56 wins entering the tournament set by the 1991 Clemson team. Bill Wilhelm’s team had a 56-8 record entering the tournament, then won the regional in Orono, ME. They went 0-2 at the College World Series to finish 60-10. That is still the school record for wins in a season.

This is the fourth Leggett-coached Tiger team that has had at least 47 wins entering the NCAA Tournament. His first team, the 1994 club, had a 55-16 record entering the tournament.

Clemson Enters NCAA Tournament on a Roll Clemson has a 47-14 record entering the NCAA Tournament, including 19 wins in its last 20 games. That is the best 20-game record heading into the NCAA Tournament in school history. The 1991 and 1947 Clemson teams were 18-2 in their last 20 games entering the NCAA Tournament, and that was the previous best. Both of those teams went deep into the NCAA Tournament. The 1947 team reached the Final Eight before being eliminated by George Bush’s Yale team, while Clemson’s 1991 team finished with a school-record 60 wins and reached the College World Series.

Tigers Win Regular-Season and Tourney Titles Clemson won both the ACC regular-season and ACC Tournament titles this year. It marked the sixth time in school history that Clemson won both league titles in the same year, and the first time since 1994, Jack Leggett’s first year as Clemson’s head coach.

Two Clemson teams in history have won the ACC regular-season title, won the tournament, and then gone on to the College World Series. That was the 1976 and 1991 Clemson teams. Leggett’s first Clemson team won the ACC regular-season title with a 20-4 record, then won the ACC Tournament with a 4-1 record. But the Tigers were 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament and did not move on to the College World Series.

Four Tigers Named All-ACC Righthander Tyler Colvin were named to the second team.

Six Tigers Named All-ACC Tournament Six Tigers were named to the All-ACC Tournament team this year. They all were major reasons Clemson won four of five games and captured the school’s first ACC Tournament title since 1994. Named to the team were all three outfielders, Tyler Colvin, and D.J. Mitchell, second-baseman Taylor Harbin, third-baseman Marquez Smith, and righthander Sean Clark. Colvin was named the MVP of the Tournament as well.

The six selections were the most ever for a Clemson team to the All-ACC Tournament squad. The 1989 team that won the tournament in Greenville, SC behind lefthander Brian Barnes had five selections, as did the 1991 team. Clemson had just three selections in 1994, the last time Clemson won the tournament.

Clemson’s six selections were the most by an ACC team since 1999, when nine Wake Forest players were named to the all-tournament team. Colvin was named the MVP of the tournament after hitting .417 on a team-best 10 hits in 24 at-bats. He had at least one hit in every game, extending his hitting streak to 20 games. He also had three steals and drove in five runs.

Clark was the only pitcher named to the team. He went 8.0 innings in the championship game and allowed just one run on four hits. It was his first win of his Clemson career.

Holding Teams to Three Runs or Less One of the reasons for Clemson’s strong finish to the 2006 season has been consistency in pitching. The Tigers had a streak of 11 consecutive games allowing three runs or less between a 14-0 win over Duke on May 8 and a 3-2 victory over #7 Georgia Tech on May 25. Clemson won all 11 games during that stretch.

The 11 consecutive games allowing the opposition to score three runs or less was the longest of its kind since 1917. Clemson had an 11-game streak in 1972, but this Clemson team trumped that streak in the ACC Tournament. The 1917 team had a 14-game streak of allowing three runs or less, and that is the all-time school record. Georgia Tech broke the string when it scored eight runs in an 8-7 victory (10 innings) in the ACC Tournament.

Tigers Tough to Beat at Clemson Clemson has been tough to beat historically and this year at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Head Coach Jack Leggett’s team will play host to the Clemson Regional beginning on Friday and will host a Super Regional if it is fortunate enough to win the regional.

So far this year, Clemson is 31-5 at home, an 86.1 winning percentage. Clemson has hit .319 in the 36 games at home, with a 41-13 advantage in home runs over the opposition and a .498 slugging percentage to just .300 for the opposition. Clemson has a .977 fielding percentage at home, and has stolen 61-72 bases.

Clemson has great balance on offense at home this year, with eight of the nine starting position players hitting .318 or better. Tyler Colvin leads the way with a .367 average at home for the 36 games, while Brad Chalk is at .365 and Andy D’Alessio leads the team in home runs at home with nine, while Marquez Smith and Colvin have seven apiece.

Clemson’s pitching has been outstanding in posting the 31-5 record at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Clemson’s opponents have hit just .224 this year at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and the Tiger pitching staff has a 2.39 ERA for the 36 games. The opposition has a 7.06 ERA against the Tiger offense.

Clemson’s starting pitching has been nothing short of incredible at home this year. Weekend starters Jason Berken, and Josh Cribb are a combined 20-0 at home with a 1.52 ERA. They have combined to allow just 12 extra-base hits, including only two home runs, in 545 combined opponent at-bats.

Cribb is 8-0 at home this year with a 1.92 ERA. Faris is 6-0 with a 1.06 ERA and a .167 opponent batting average. Berken is 6-0 with a 1.70 ERA, and has allowed just one extra-base hit (a triple) at home this year. He has not lost at home since the 2003 season, his freshman year, when he lost to Coastal Carolina on April 15, 2003. He has won his last nine decisions at home since then.

Clemson is 31-5 at home, but all five of the losses came against non-conference teams. Clemson was a perfect 15-0 at home in the ACC this year, the first time the Tigers had a perfect league mark at home since 1988, when Bill Wilhelm’s Tigers were 11-0 at home in the ACC. Clemson’s 31 wins at home are the most since the 2002 team had a 36-9 home record.

Entering the NCAA Tournament, Clemson is 887-199 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, an 81.7 winning percentage. The Tigers are 290-60 in home ACC games over the years in the facility. Doug Kingsmore Stadium was opened in 1970.

Leggett Named ACC Coach-of-the-Year Head Coach Jack Leggett was named ACC Coach-of-the-Year on May 22. The Tiger mentor has led Clemson to a 47-14 record so far this year, including a league-best 24-6 ACC record and a #1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament.

It was the third time Leggett won the honor, as he also was presented the award in 1994 and 1995, his first two seasons as the program’s head coach. “This award is a testament to the hard work of our players and assistant coaches during the entire season,” said Leggett. “It is truly a team award. This is a great honor, and I am proud to be associated with this team and coaching staff.

“It is especially gratifying because the ACC is as strong as it has ever been. We have a great group of successful and respected coaches.”

Leggett took the Tigers to the ACC Championship in the regular season and the tournament. It marked just the third time in the last 25 years that a Clemson team won both titles in the same year. He also reached the 600-win mark as head coach at Clemson with a 3-2 win over #7 Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament on May 25.

39 Wins With an 11-2 win over #13 Florida State on May 14, Clemson reached the 39-win mark for the 21st year in a row. Clemson is one of only a handful of schools with such a streak of 39-win seasons.

17-Game Winning Streak Clemson had a 17-game winning streak between April 22 and May 25. The streak began with a 4-1 victory at Boston College in the second game of a doubleheader. The final victory was a 3-2 win over #7 Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament, a game Clemson won with a walkoff single by Ben Hall. The streak ended on May 27 when the Yellow Jackets beat Clemson 8-7 in the bottom of the 10th inning with a walkoff hit. But, that is Clemson’s only loss since April 22.

The 17-game winning streak tied for the fourth longest in Clemson history and was the longest since a 25-game winning streak in 1995. It is important to point out that the 17-game streak was the longest in Tiger history at this stage of the season. None of the other four winning streaks finished after April 23.

The school record for the longest winning streak in Clemson history is 26, set in 1977. That year, Clemson won its first 26 games of the season and reached a #1 ranking in Collegiate Baseball, Clemson’s first-ever #1 ranking in baseball.

Tigers Go Wild in 26-1 Win Over Wake Forest Clemson showed its capabilities from an offensive standpoint in a 26-1 victory over Wake Forest on May 18, the first game of the final home series of the regular season. The Tigers had 26 runs on 25 hits, and belted seven home runs, a school record for home runs at Doug Kingsmore Stadium and the second-most home runs in a single game in school history. The all-time record is eight against South Carolina in 1962.

The 26 runs scored tied for the fifth-most runs scored in Clemson history, and were the most since a 41-9 win at N.C. State in 1979. It also tied for the most runs scored by a Tiger team at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, the most since a 26-6 win over West Virginia on March 3, 1975.

As far as victory margin is concerned, the +25 run margin tied for third best in school history and was the greatest ever by the Tigers at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. It was the most since the +32 run margin in the 41-9 win at N.C. State in 1979.

Thievery on the Rise One of the reasons for Clemson’s improvement this year has been the ability to steal bases at an efficient rate. So far this year, Clemson has stolen 90 bases in 109 attempts, an 82.6-percent success rate. That includes a 13-14 performance during the ACC Tournament. Clemson stole just 42 bases in 63 attempts all of last year, and has already doubled that figure this season.

If the season ended today, the 82.6-percent stolen-base mark would be the third-best figure in Clemson history. The record is held by the 1982 team that stole bases at an 88.0-percent rate. The 1986 team stole bases at 82.7 percent. Thus, this year’s team is the best since 1986, and obviously the best percentage under Head Coach Jack Leggett.

Two Tigers have had a lot to do with that percentage, as centerfielder Brad Chalk is 17-17 this season and shortstop Stan Widmann is 14-14. Those would be the second and third-best, perfect-stolen-base seasons in Clemson history if the season ended today. The record is a 18-18 season by Mark Davidson in 1982. Davidson went on to play with the World Champion Minnesota Twins.

Hitting, Pitching, Fielding Have All Been Solid Clemson has been solid in all phases of the game this year, posting a .305 batting average, a 3.19 ERA, and a .972 fielding percentage. In fact, the fielding percentage is on pace to break the record of .971 set by the 2002 Clemson team that went to the College World Series.

The 2006 Clemson team is on pace to become just the second team in school history to have a batting average of at least .300, an ERA of 3.50 or better, and a fielding percentage of at least .965. The 1977 Clemson team that started the year 26-0, and finished with a 42-10 record and a berth in the College World Series, hit .309 as a team, fielded a then-record .967, and had a 3.34 ERA.

Starters Compare Favorably With 1996 Group Pitching has certainly been an important reason the Tigers have had a top-five national ranking this year. The staff overall has a 3.19 ERA to rank among the best in the nation.

Clemson’s three weekend starters (Jason Berken) have been outstanding and consistent all season. In fact, they may be the best group of weekend starters since the 1996 Clemson team that featured Kris Benson, Billy Koch, and Ken Vining. That trio all went on to pitch in the Major Leagues. Benson and Koch were both top-five overall picks in the 1996 Major League Draft, and Benson is still pitching in the Big Leagues with Baltimore.

A look to the stats shows that this year’s trio of weekend starters compares favorably with that 1996 group in terms of winning percentage and ERA. This year’s group is a combined 26-5 for an 83.9 winning percentage. Benson, Koch, and Vining were a combined 34-10 in 1996 for a 77.3 winning percentage. The combined ERA for Faris, Cribb, and Berken is 2.61, better than the 2.63 combined ERA for Benson, Koch, and Vining in 1996.

The 1996 trio was more dominant in terms of strikeouts and opponents’ batting average. The 1996 trio had 491 strikeouts that year, while this year’s trio has just 223. Opponents hit just .201 against the 1996 trio, while this year’s group has allowed a .226 opponents’ batting average.

Fielding Above Record Pace The five-highest team fielding percentages by a Tiger team have occurred in the last six years, including the record of .971 in 2002. The high percentages are a testament to the countless hours Head Coach Jack Leggett and the players spend on fielding, whether during practice or on the players’ own time. This season is no different. Clemson has committed 66 errors in 61 games, good for a .972 fielding percentage. In five ACC Tournament games, the Tigers committed just one error as well.

Demmink With Two Double-Digit Hit Streaks Graduate designated hitter Herman Demmink had a 13-game hitting streak from April to May, where he hit .380 (19-for-50) during the streak. He is hitting .294 overall as the leadoff batter in the lineup this season. It was his second double-digit-game hitting streak of the season, as he had a 10-game hitting streak earlier in 2006.

Another Tiger D.J. The initials “D.J.” are synonymous with a national championship at Clemson. Tiger golfer and current PGA Tour player D.J. Trahan led the Clemson golf team to the National Championship in 2003.

While he has not had near the career on the baseball diamond as Trahan had on the golf course, Clemson outfielder D.J. Mitchell certainly had a strong impact on Clemson’s ACC Championship run this year. Mitchell took over for starting outfielder Travis Storrer, who suffered an injury in the final regular-season game against Wake Forest.

Mitchell had started just six games entering the ACC Tournament and had compiled a respectable .267 batting average with 12 total hits and four RBIs. But Mitchell responded when he was put into the starting lineup and hit .421 for the ACC Tournament with five RBIs, a team-tying-high five RBIs and five runs scored. Thus, he had more RBIs in the tournament (5) than he had had all year (4), and had eight hits after recording just 12 total in the regular season. Mitchell was rewarded with a berth on the All-ACC Tournament team.

Cribb Duplicating Perfect Senior Year Senior years are special for Clemson righthander Josh Cribb. As a senior at Lake View (SC) High School, Cribb posted a perfect 13-0 record with 182 strikeouts in just 93.0 innings pitched. What was most incredible was his 0.00 ERA, the only pitcher in the state to do that in 2001.

This year, Cribb is again perfect with a 9-0 record, the only ACC starter with a perfect record this year (minimum of nine decisions). He does not have an 0.00 ERA, but he still has a strong 2.84 figure.

Cribb has been especially effective at home and against top-25 teams. He is 8-0 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium this year with a 1.92 ERA. He is also 4-0 against top-25 teams this season.

Clark An Unlikely Hero Graduate righthander Sean Clark was not on the top of the list of candidates to make All-ACC Tournament when the league baseball event began on May 24. The righthander from Los Angeles, CA had pitched in just seven games and for 10.1 innings all season, and had not had a decision prior to the tournament.

He red-shirted in 2005 due to injury, so that was it for his career numbers. And, he had never pitched a game on the road in his career. In fact, the only reason he made the trip to Jacksonville, FL for the ACC Tournament was an injury to outfielder Travis Storrer. That freed up a roster spot, and Clark got on the bus.

Clark did not pitch in the first four games of the ACC Tournament and had appeared in just two games in the last two months, one-inning appearances against Wofford and Wake Forest. But Clark was handed the ball as the starter for the ACC Championship game on May 28, an assignment he learned of when he got on the bus to come to the ballpark on Sunday morning.

Clark responded with a memorable performance in the nationally-televised game against #25 N.C. State, the ACC’s best hitting team with a .337 batting average entering the game. He pitched 8.0 innings, allowed just four hits, struck out five, and walked just one against the Wolfpack.

Clark had a three-hit shutout through eight innings, then allowed a hit to the leadoff batter in the ninth inning. That brought out Head Coach Jack Leggett, who came to mound and hugged Clark before he took him out, perhaps an unprecedented show of appreciation by the 13-year Clemson mentor.

Clemson held on for the 8-4 victory over the Wolfpack and the ACC Championship, the first for the Tiger program since 1994. Clark had never pitched more than three innings in his college career prior to the game. In fact, he had just the 10.1 innings of experience prior to his eight innings in the game. For his performance, Clark was named to the All-ACC Tournament team, one of six Tigers honored and the only pitcher chosen to the team.

Clemson Wins ACC Tournament for Ninth Time Clemson won the ACC Tournament title by going 4-1 in five games from May 24-28 at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (FL). The Tigers defeated N.C. State for the championship after beating Wake Forest in the opener and winning two of three games over #7 Georgia Tech. Clemson hit .321 with a .415 on-base percentage and 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts. The offense also totaled 47 runs, 11 doubles, five triples, two homers, and 26 walks in five games. The defense committed just one error and did not allow a stolen base as well.

It was truly a team effort, as all nine Tiger regulars in the field had between three and five RBIs and at least one extra-base hit in the tournament. Tyler Colvin hit .417 with 10 hits, five RBIs, and three stolen bases. Taylor Harbin added eight hits, including four doubles, a triple, and a homer.

In the first round of the ACC Tournament, Clemson totaled 13 hits and defeated Wake Forest 13-1 in seven innings (10-run rule) on May 24. The Tigers scored four runs in the second inning and five more in the fifth inning to break the game open. Mitchell went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Marquez Smith and Harbin each had three hits. Both Harbin and Chalk had a double and triple as well. P.J. Zocchi earned the win, as he allowed one run on four hits in 6.0 innings pitched.

In the second round of the ACC Tournament, pinch-hitter Stephen Faris pitched 7.0 stellar innings, allowing only one run on three hits with eight strikeouts. Nine different Tigers had one hit apiece, while Georgia Tech had just six hits (all singles). The victory gave Jack Leggett 600 wins as head coach at Clemson.

In the third round of the ACC Tournament, Wally Crancer hit a walkoff single in the 10th inning to lift #7 Georgia Tech to an 8-7 win over Clemson in the first game of a doubleheader on May 27. The loss ended Clemson’s 17-game winning streak and 15-game winning streak against ACC teams. The back-and-forth game saw the Tigers out-hit the Yellow Jackets 15-14, but Clemson left 17 runners on base, including 10 in scoring position, and had only seven of its 24 baserunners score. The Tigers trailed 5-3 in the eighth, but they scored three in the frame, highlighted by Stan Widmann two-run single, to take the lead. But Georgia Tech scored two runs in the ninth to tie the score and one in the 10th for the win. Colvin and Chalk each had three hits, while Chalk reached base five times in the contest thanks to two walks.

In the bracket final of the ACC Tournament, Clemson scored 10 runs in the ninth inning to break a 6-6 tie and defeated #7 Georgia Tech 16-11 in the second game of a doubleheader on May 27. After the Yellow Jackets tied the score in the eighth inning, Clemson erupted for 10 runs on nine hits in the ninth, highlighted by a two-run triple by Casanova and a two-run homer by Demmink. The Tigers entered the game with just nine total runs in the ninth inning all season. Behind Luke Murton’s third homer of the game, a grand slam, in the bottom of the ninth inning, Georgia Tech cut the Tiger lead to 16-11 before Clemson finally recorded the game’s final out at 1:27 AM. Mitchell had two hits in the ninth inning and three for the game, while Harbin added a homer, double, single, and three RBIs. Georgia Tech hit five homers as well.

In the ACC Tournament Championship game, Sean Clark pitched 8.0 innings of four-hit ball to lead Clemson to an 8-4 victory over #25 N.C. State on May 28. Clark, who had never made a start or won a game in a Tiger uniform, allowed just one run (in the ninth inning) and one walk with five strikeouts to earn the win against the ACC’s best hitting team that entered the game with a .337 batting average. Zocchi struck out the only batter he faced to record the save. The Tigers scored four unearned runs in the fourth inning thanks to two costly errors by third-baseman Matt Mangini. Clemson scored four more runs in the seventh inning and held on for the 8-4 win to capture its first ACC Tournament title since 1994. Colvin and Widmann had three hits apiece for the Tigers, who walked nine times in the game.

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