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Clemson Baseball at Myrtle Beach Regional Preview

Clemson Baseball at Myrtle Beach Regional Preview

May 30, 2007

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Tigers #2 Seed in Myrtle Beach Regional Clemson (38-21), ranked as high as #13 in the nation, is the #2 seed in the Myrtle Beach (SC) Regional. The Tigers are joined by #1-seed Coastal Carolina, #3-seed Saint John’s, and #4-seed Virginia Commonwealth. The double-elimination tournament will be held at Coastal Federal Field from June 1-4.

The Tigers will open up against Saint John’s (40-17) on Friday at 12:00 PM. Clemson will be the home team and occupy the third-base dugout. Coastal Carolina (48-11) and Virginia Commonwealth (37-21) will play Friday at 4:00 PM. The two losers will play Saturday at 12:00 PM, while the two winners will play Saturday at 4:00 PM. The winner of the second game Saturday will play in the championship round Sunday at 4:00 PM, while the loser of the second game Saturday will play the winner of the first game Saturday at 12:00 PM on Sunday. If the unbeaten team loses Sunday, the same two teams will play a game on Monday at 7:05 PM to determine the Myrtle Beach Regional champion. All games of the regional will be televised by ESPNU.

The winner of the Myrtle Beach Regional will play the winner of the Tallahassee (FL) Regional from June 8-11. The four teams in that regional are #1-seed Florida State, #2-seed Mississippi State, #3-seed Stetson, and #4-seed Bethune-Cookman.

Clemson’s NCAA Tournament History The 2007 season marks Clemson’s 33rd 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 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 single-game record for strikeouts in an NCAA Tournament game.

The Tigers advanced to Omaha 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 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 victories, 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 the 1987 season, making College World Series appearances in 1991, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, and 2006. Clemson’s streak of 21 consecutive regionals is the third-longest streak in NCAA history, behind only Miami (FL) (35) and Florida State (30).

Overall, Clemson has been to a regional in 33 seasons, sixth-best all-time. Clemson’s all-time record in NCAA play is 94-68, a 58.0 winning percentage.

Clemson is 49-28 (.636) under Head Coach Jack Leggett in NCAA Tournament play, including a 32-5 record (.865) in home NCAA Tourney games. Leggett has taken Clemson to a regional all 14 years he has been Clemson’s head coach, and the Tigers have advanced to the College World Series five times. Leggett has also taken Clemson to a super regional six of the first eight years that format has been in existence.

Tigers Earn 21st Straight NCAA Appearance Clemson enters the 2007 NCAA Tournament with a 38-21 overall record, earning its 21st straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The streak is third-longest in NCAA history.

Scouting #1-Seed Coastal Carolina Top-seed and #10-ranked Coastal Carolina (48-11) enters the Myrtle Beach Regional after capturing the Big South Conference Tournament title at Rock Hill, SC last weekend. The Chanticleers, who are 31-3 at home, had a 17-4 record during their conference regular season. The 2007 season marks the seventh time in school history they have played in an NCAA Tournament.

Coastal Carolina is led by 12th-year Head Coach Gary Gilmore. After suffering a four-game losing streak in April, the team has gone 20-4 in the last 24 games.

Coastal Carolina is hitting .322 with a .414 on-base percentage, thanks to 273 walks, and 72 home runs. The Chanticleers, who are fielding at a .971 clip and have allowed just 23 steals, have totaled a remarkable 110 sacrifice bunts and 62 stolen bases in 84 attempts as well.

Tommy Baldridge is hitting a team-best .393 with 13 homers and 56 RBIs. David Sappelt is batting .366 with 17 doubles, seven triples, 10 homers, and 49 RBIs, while Chris Raber is hitting .329 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs. Dom Duggan leads the squad with 27 sacrifice bunts, while Derek Martin (19), Matt Rademacher (18), Raber (11), and Tyler Bortnick (10) have also totaled double digits in sacrifice bunts.

The pitching staff has a 3.41 ERA and .260 opponents’ batting average. The staff has also totaled 19 saves and 372 strikeouts against only 135 walks. Sophomore righthander David Anderson has a team-high 10 saves along with a 3.25 ERA in 28 appearances.

Clemson and Coastal Carolina have met 40 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 34-6 lead in the series dating back to 1986. The two teams had played every year since 1988 until 2006, when they did not play. However, the two teams played at Clemson earlier this year on March 7, and the Tigers came away with a 4-0 victory.

In 2005, the Tigers won both games of a two-game, midweek series at Clemson by scores of 14-5 and 8-1. Earlier that season in a tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC at Coastal Federal Field, the Chanticleers won 3-2. That was just the second game of the careers of current Tiger junior starters Taylor Harbin and Brad Chalk.

Prior to that 2005 game, the previous 19 games in the series were played at Clemson. Clemson is 26-4 against the Chanticleers in games played at Clemson and 21-4 against Coastal Carolina under Head Coach Jack Leggett.

Clemson has an 8-2 lead in the series in games played at Coastal Carolina. In addition to Coastal Carolina’s win in 2005 in Myrtle Beach, Clemson’s other loss was on February 16, 1986 by a score of 9-3.

Clemson opened the 1989 season at Coastal Carolina with a 22-5 win. Clemson had 10 doubles in that game, still the Clemson single-game record for doubles. Mike Couture had three of those doubles to tie a school single-game record.

Clemson won 20 games in a row over Coastal Carolina between March 27, 1990 and May 7, 1999. The Chanticleers broke the streak with a 4-2 win at Clemson on May 8, 1999. Since the 20-game Clemson winning streak, the Tigers have a 9-4 advantage in the series.

If Clemson and Coastal Carolina meet in the NCAA Regional this weekend, it will be the second time in two weeks that the two schools have met in an NCAA Tournament. On May 19 in Atlanta, GA at the Golf Club of Georgia Lakeside Course, the two schools tied for 10th at the NCAA East Regional golf tournament. Only 10 teams advance to the NCAA National Tournament, so Clemson and Coastal Carolina faced off in a playoff. Coastal Carolina defeated Clemson by one stroke on the fourth playoff hole to win the final berth to the NCAA Tournament. The playoff took two hours and 35 minutes to play, just four minutes shorter than the baseball game between the two schools played at Clemson earlier this year.

Scouting #2-Seed Clemson Second-seed and #13-ranked Clemson (38-21) enters the NCAA Tournament coming off two wins in three games at the ACC Tournament. Clemson was 18-12 during the ACC regular season, finishing in second place in the Atlantic Division. Clemson is making its 21st straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the third-longest streak in NCAA history, and 33rd overall.

The Tigers, who are 10-9 on opponents’ home fields and 3-1 in neutral-site games, are led by 14th-year Head Coach Jack Leggett. His 646 wins are fourth-most in college baseball during his tenure. The Tigers are also 9-7 against top-25 ranked teams in 2007, including winning eight of their last 10.

The team is hitting .288 with a .372 on-base percentage. Taylor Harbin has added nine homers and 55 RBIs.

The pitching staff has a 3.66 ERA and .259 opponents’ batting average. It has combined to strike out 497 against 214 walks. Daniel Moskos has a team-high six saves and 3.12 ERA, while Stephen Clyne has a 2.34 ERA along with three saves in 29 relief appearances. The team is fielding at a .972 clip as well.

Scouting #3-Seed Saint John’s Third-seed Saint John’s (40-17) enters the NCAA Tournament after winning one of three games in the Big East Conference Tournament at Brooklyn, NY last weekend. The team, who was 20-7 in conference regular-season games, started the season 0-7, but has gone 40-10 since. One of those wins came against #8 Rice on March 6, a 7-6 victory at Houston, TX. Saint John’s, who is 17-5 on opponents’ home fields and 2-8 in neutral-site games, is making its 30th NCAA Tournament appearance, eighth-most in NCAA history.

Saint John’s is led by 12th-year Head Coach Ed Blankmeyer. The last time Clemson played against Saint John’s in 1993, Clemson’s starting first baseman was current Red Storm Assistant Coach Mike Hampton. Hampton had a 2-for-4 day with a double and RBI, and added 14 putouts. Hampton played two seasons for the Tigers (1993,94) and had a career batting average of .341. He played in 121 games, including 106 as a starter, and totaled 14 homers and 92 RBIs. He also had 34 doubles and 42 stolen bases.

Hampton was a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA, and a Second-Team ABCA and Baseball America All-American in 1994 when he helped Clemson to a 57-18 record, still the second-most wins in a season in school history. Clemson was ranked #1 in the nation entering the NCAA Tournament that year, but the Tigers did not reach the College World Series. Jack Leggett was an assistant coach in 1993 in Hampton’s first year, then was the head coach in Hampton’s second season at Clemson.

Saint John’s is hitting .330 with a .398 on-base percentage and 81 stolen bases in 109 attempts. Gil Zayas is hitting .363 with 21 doubles and 53 RBIs, while Brian Kemp is batting .361 with a team-high 25 steals. Sam DeLuca is hitting .352 with 18 doubles and 45 RBIs, and has walked 22 times against only eight strikeouts. Anthony Smith has added 11 homers and 47 RBIs as well for Saint John’s, who is fielding at a .968 clip.

Senior first-baseman Ryan Mahoney, a transfer from South Carolina, is hitting .304 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs, both team-highs. Mahoney is the brother of former Tiger catcher and righthander Collin Mahoney (2002-04), who played on Clemson’s 2002 College World Series team.

The pitching staff has a 3.47 ERA and .262 opponents’ batting average. It has also allowed just 20 homers and 161 walks with 398 strikeouts. Sophomore righthander Colin Lynch has a 2.45 ERA and 11 saves in 24 relief appearances.

Clemson and Saint John’s have met on the baseball diamond five times, all in the Bill Wilhelm era. Four of the previous five have taken place at neutral sites.

The first meeting was held at Clemson on the last day of March in 1975. Bob Mahony, who is currently an associate director with IPTAY, Clemson’s athletic scholarship fundraising department, pitched a five-hit shutout in leading Clemson to a 4-0 victory. Mahony struck out six and walked five in recording the only shutout of his Tiger career. Future 15-year Major Leaguer Denny Walling had a 2-for-3 day with an RBI, while Billy Wingo added a pair of hits.

The two teams played a pair of games at Boardwalk & Baseball in Orlando, FL in 1988. The Tigers won the first game on May 22 by a score of 16-1. Future Major League pitcher Mike Milchin had a 4-for-6 day at the plate as a first baseman, and Mike Couture had a 3-for-4 day with the team’s only home run, as Clemson scored seven runs during the first two innings.

Clemson won the second game of the two-game series by a score of 6-5 the next day in a game that was nationally televised on ESPN. The Tigers scored two runs in the eighth inning and two in the bottom of the ninth to capture the win. Randy Mazey doubled home the tying run, then scored the winner on a wild pitch with two outs.

The teams played a third game that year in the NCAA Tournament. ESPN televised the game in Orlando between the two teams, then did not televise the NCAA meeting played in New Britain, CT, just 15 minutes from ESPN headquarters. Clemson defeated Saint John’s 11-1 in the third round game at Beehive Stadium. Alan Botkin pitched a complete game, and allowed eight hits and one run.

Henry Threadgill was the hitting star for the Tigers with a 5-for-5 day at the plate, tying the Clemson record for hits in an NCAA Tournament game. He also had a Clemson NCAA game-record three stolen bases and added four RBIs. Clemson was 10-10 on the basepaths in the game. Again, Couture hit Clemson’s only home run.

The Red Storm won the last meeting on March 16, 1993 in Fresno, CA. Saint John’s scored six runs over the first three innings to gain the victory over Clemson starter Mike Holtz, who went on to pitch seven years in the Major Leagues. Dexter McCleon, who is still a cornerback in the NFL with the Houston Texans, had a 3-for-5 day with a double to lead the Tiger offense. Leadoff batter Jeff Morris had three hits as well.

Current Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett has faced Saint John’s just once, and it was in the NCAA Tournament. As head coach at Western Carolina on May 25, 1985, his Catamounts defeated Saint John’s 9-6 in a third-round NCAA Tournament game in Columbia, SC. It was Leggett’s second career win in NCAA Tournament play.

Scouting #4-Seed Virginia Commonwealth Fourth-seed Virginia Commonwealth (37-21) enters the Myrtle Beach Regional after winning the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title last weekend. After amassing an 18-11 conference mark during the regular season, the Rams went 4-0 in their conference tournament to earn the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA field. The 2007 season marks their ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament as well.

Virginia Commonwealth, led by 13th-year Head Coach Paul Keyes, has a 12-11 record on opponents’ home fields and 3-0 record in neutral-site contests. The Rams opened the series with one win in four games at #18 San Diego. After an 8-1 loss to #5 Virginia on April 10, the Rams’ record stood at 19-14. But they have gone 18-7 since, including their current five-game winning streak. Virginia Commonwealth has not lost more than two games in a row all season as well.

The team is hitting .303 with a .377 on-base percentage, 28 home runs, and 99 stolen bases in 137 attempts. Virginia Commonwealth is also fielding at a .967 clip.

Jard Bolden is hitting a team-best .393 with five homers, 49 RBIs, and 17 steals. Sergio Miranda is batting .370, while Chris Jackson’s batting average stands at .339 along with a team-best 56 RBIs. Kwan Evans has added a team-high 18 stolen bases as well.

The pitching staff has a 4.47 ERA and .275 opponents’ batting average along with 366 strikeouts against 166 walks. Junior righthander Luke Pisker has a 9-1 record, 1.87 ERA, and 11 saves in 30 relief appearances. In 62.2 innings pitched, he has allowed just 41 hits (.189 opponents’ batting average) and 22 walks with 54 strikeouts.

Clemson has never faced Virginia Commonwealth on the diamond. Virginia Commonwealth played in the 1998 East Regional at Clemson, SC, but the Tigers and Rams did not meet in the six-team regional.

Head Coach Jack Leggett has faced Virginia Commonwealth twice. As head coach at Vermont, Leggett and the Catamounts defeated the Rams in both meetings.

Worth Noting * Clemson started the season just 1-5 against top-25 ranked teams. But in the last 10 games against top-25 ranked teams, the Tigers are 8-2.

Polls Clemson jumped to the #18 spot in the Baseball America poll and #13 in the Collegiate Baseball poll on Monday after going 2-1 in three games last week. Clemson also dropped to #17 in the Sports Weekly poll.

The Tigers’ #1 ranking by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball on February 12 was their first since February 27, 2006, when Clemson was ranked #1 by those same two polls. The Tigers have been ranked #1 for 20 weeks by at least one of the major polls in Head Coach Jack Leggett’s 14th season at Clemson.

29 That’s how many of Clemson’s 59 games have been against teams that will play in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, which equates to over 49 percent. Clemson has a 15-14 record against the teams in the field, including an 8-8 record away from home. The Tigers have played 10 different teams that are in the tournament. Clemson has played one top-eight national seed in Florida State, and the Tigers were 3-1 in four meetings with the Seminoles, all games played in the state of Florida.

Juniors Started at Coastal Federal Field The trio of Taylor Harbin, Brad Chalk were a staple “up the middle” on defense for the Tigers their first two seasons. Though Widmann has missed most of 2007 due to a neck injury, those three juniors played their first games as Tiger freshmen at Coastal Federal Field in Myrtle Beach, SC to open the 2005 season in Baseball at The Beach.

The Tigers opened up against West Virginia in the round-robin tournament on February 18. The Tigers defeated the Mountaineers 7-2 behind Harbin’s 2-for-4 performance. In fact, Harbin hit a double in his first plate appearance as a Tiger, the first of his 67 career doubles. Chalk was 2-for-5 with two RBIs in the game as well.

The Tigers fell in their next two games in the tourney, including a 3-2 loss on D.J. Burns’ walkoff single in the ninth inning. East Carolina then handed Clemson a 10-0 defeat.

In the three-game tourney, Harbin was 5-for-12 (.417) with three doubles and three steals, Chalk was 3-for-12 (.250) with a double and two RBIs, and Widmann was 1-for-10 (.100).

Junior pitchers Doug Hogan also made their debut in a Tiger uniform in the tournament.

Sophomore lefthander Ryan Hinson has some history at Coastal Federal Field as well. After the Rock Hill, SC native’s senior year at Northwestern High School, he played in the South Carolina North/South All-Star game at Myrtle Beach. He earned MVP honors in the game for his efforts on the mound and at the plate.

Fielding Near Record Pace The six-highest team fielding percentages by a Tiger team have occurred in the last seven years, including the record of .9725 in 2006. 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 59 games, good for a .9717 fielding percentage. That mark is just behind the school-record mark set in 2006.

Clemson Set Home Attendance Record For the fourth year in a row, Clemson set the school record for average home attendance. The Tigers drew 163,537 fans for their 34 home dates in 2007, an average of 4,810 per date. That mark broke the previous record of 4,742, set in 2006.

Burgess Bringing It to the Plate Freshman second-baseman J.D. Burgess (Pickens, SC) has been steady all season in the field, but he is one of the hottest Tigers at the plate of late. It all started in Clemson’s comeback win over #2 Florida State on May 12. Entering the game with a .183 batting average, he was 2-for-2 to help the Tigers to a thrilling 7-6 victory. Including that game, Burgess has hit safely in eight of the last nine games and is 12-for-29 (.414) with seven runs scored during that stretch. He has raised his season average to .238.

Burgess also has a solid .974 fielding percentage, committing just five errors in 190 chances. He got his shot to play every day when shortstop Taylor Harbin moved to shortstop.

Kopp Earns All-ACC Tournament Honors David Kopp earned All-ACC Tournament honors for his gem against #3 Florida State on May 26. The Margate, FL native led Clemson to a 5-1 victory in front of a Jacksonville, FL crowd comprised mostly of Seminole fans. It was Clemson’s third win in four meetings against Florida State in 2007, all games played in the state of Florida.

All he did was pitch a complete game, allowing just six hits, one unearned run, and no walks with seven strikeouts against the nation’s best hitting team in terms of batting average. Florida State entered the tourney with a team batting average of .360.

It was also a special performance considering the opposing pitcher. Seminole starter Bryan Henry entered the tournament with a 14-0 record in 2007 and the most victories in the nation. But the Tiger junior outpitched the ACC Pitcher-of-the-Year, as Kopp nearly missed a shutout when Florida State scored an unearned run in the ninth inning.

Clemson Goes 2-1 in ACC Tournament Clemson went 2-1 in the ACC Tournament at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (FL) from May 23-26. The Tigers defeated #25 Miami (FL) 5-4 in 13 innings, then fell to Wake Forest 3-2. Clemson rebounded to defeat #3 Florida State 5-1, but did not advance to the ACC Tournament Championship Game due to the tiebreaker in the new round-robin format. Clemson, who outscored its opponents by a combined score of 12-8, hit .262 with a .360 on-base percentage in the tourney. Marquez Smith had two hits in each game and was 6-for-13 (.462) in all. J.D. Burgess was 4-for-10 (.400) as well. The Tiger pitching staff had a 1.50 ERA and .220 opponents’ batting average along with not allowing a home run.

In the Tigers’ first game of the ACC Tournament on May 23, Brad Chalk was intentionally walked to load the bases, Lee bunted a 1-0 pitch between the mound and third base, as Johnson easily scored the winning run. Alan Farina picked up the win in relief, as he allowed just one hit and one unearned run with six strikeouts in 3.2 innings pitched.

In Clemson’s second game of the ACC Tournament on May 25, Brett Linnenkohl hit a walkoff single in the ninth inning to lift Wake Forest to a 3-2 win over Clemson. Clemson built a 2-0 lead with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, including a run-scoring double by Doug Hogan in the fourth. But the Demon Deacons scored single runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. Wake Forest loaded the bases in the ninth thanks in part to two Tiger errors, then Linnenkohl grounded a single up the middle with no outs to plate the winning run. Clemson totaled just six hits and was only 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

In the Tigers’ third game of the ACC Tournament on May 26, junior righthander Taylor Harbin was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Chalk added a triple and two RBIs.