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Clemson Baseball To Host Auburn In Season Opener

Clemson Baseball To Host Auburn In Season Opener

Feb. 21, 2002

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Clemson vs. Auburn Feb. 22-24, 2001 Doug Kingsmore Stadium, Clemson, SC Fri.: 3:00 PM (WCCP) * Sat.: 2:00 PM (WCCP) * Sun.: 2:00 PM (WCCP)

Probable StartersGame 1: Steve Reba (RHP, 12-3, 2.58 ERA in 2001) vs. Levale Speigner (RHP, 2-0, 3.00 ERA)Game 2: Matt Henrie (RHP, 6-3, 3.06 ERA in 2001) vs. Colby Paxton (RHP, 2-0, 3.27 ERA)Game 3: Steven Jackson (RHP, 2-1, 5.35 ERA in 2001) vs. Eric Brandon (RHP, 1-0, 2.70 ERA)

Clemson Opens 2002 Season Clemson (0-0) will play Auburn (7-1) beginning Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The two teams will play at 3:00 PM on Friday and at 2:00 for both Saturday and Sunday in what is the season opener for Clemson.

Clemson returns 23 lettermen, including four of its top five hitters and all of its starting pitchers from a team that finished 41-22 last season and lost to eventual national champion Miami in the Super Regional round. Senior ace Steve Reba will take the mound on Friday and look to repeat a 2001 season that saw him lead the ACC in wins, ERA, strikeouts and opponents’ batting average. Senior captain Khalil Greene returns from an All-ACC season to lead the infield after delaying his professional baseball aspirations.

One of the best junior trios in the nation will lead the Tigers at the plate. Jeff Baker, Jarrod Schmidt are all preseason All-Americans that finished among the ACC’s top six in home runs. Baker is the top returning home run hitter in college baseball after hitting 23 home runs last season. Johnson became the first Tiger ever to hit four home runs in a postseason in 2001 and Schmidt followed his 9-0 pitching performance as a freshman with an outstanding 2001 at the plate.

Matt Henrie will start Saturday’s game two. The junior had a breakout season in 2001 in which he finished fourth in the ACC in opponents’ batting average. Sophomore Steven Jackson is looking to nail down the third spot in the rotation and will start on Sunday.

Clemson has won 14 of its last 16 home openers at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers are 6-2 in season openers under Head Coach Jack Leggett.

Clemson Picked Second in Preseason Expectations are always high for the baseball players and coaches at Clemson, but never have the expectations from the media been as high. Clemson was tabbed as the second best team in the preseason by Baseball America, the highest preseason prediction ever for the Clemson baseball program. Other preseason polls picked the Tigers among the nation’s elite. Baseball Weekly ranked Clemson fifth while Collegiate Baseball placed the Tigers sixth.

Head Coach Jack Leggett Honored By Former SchoolJack Leggett enters his ninth season at Clemson with a record of 380-155 (.710). Clemson has made the NCAA Tournament and won at least 40 games in all of his season at the helm. Since his arrival at Tiger Town in 1994, Clemson has been the fifth winningest program in the country.

Leggett came to Clemson from Western Carolina and was honored by his former school in October. He was inducted into the Western Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame for his outstanding leadership and his many accomplishments. He finished his nine-year Catamount career with a 302-226 (.572) record. Leggett led Western to an unprecedented five consecutive Southern Conference Championships and five straight NCAA tournament bids from 1985-89. Perhaps his most impressive statistic is the 100% graduation rate for all who played for him four seasons.

Clemson vs. Auburn Auburn leads the all-time series with Clemson 40-34-3, but Clemson is 9-1 in the last 10 meetings against Auburn. Clemson won the most recent meeting between the two schools in 1998, a 9-4 victory in the championship game of the Olive Garden Classic. Auburn knocked Clemson out of the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament with a 11-5 victory in 1994, Jack Leggett’s first season at the helm.

Clemson defeated Auburn 11-1 in the Atlantic Regional of the NCAA Tournament in 1989 and won the next seven meetings between the two teams. The teams first met in 1901 when the Tigers of Clemson, led by head coach John Heisman, defeated Auburn 8-0.

Auburn has been Clemson’s opponent for a home opener four times and Clemson has won all of those games, the last being a 9-6 victory for Clemson in 1993. Clemson also won its season opener in 1988 at Auburn by an 8-1 score.

About the Auburn Tigers While Clemson is making its 2002 debut on Friday, Auburn will be playing its ninth game of the season. The Tigers are ranked 25th by Baseball Weekly and are coming off a 13-0 win over Troy State on Tuesday. Auburn is now 7-1 on the year.

Bobby Huddleston leads the Auburn offense with a .536 average and 15 hits. Trent Pratt is one of two Tigers to start every game and one of five hitting over .400 on the young season. He also leads the team with three home runs and 19 RBIs.

Righthander Cory Dueitt leads the pitching staff with a 2-0 record and 2.70 ERA. Righthander Levale Speigner also has a 2-0 record while Eric Brandon is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Ken Clayton has a team-high 11 strikeouts in just six innings.

Skipper Steve Renfroe is in his second season with Auburn after guiding the Tigers to a 37-21 record (15-15 SEC) last season.

Schedule Packed With Tough Opponents Clemson will be playing its latest season opener since 1987 when it takes on the 25th-ranked Tigers of Auburn. The game will be the first of many against top-25 opponents for Clemson. There are currently five teams on Clemson’s schedule ranked in the top-25. The Tigers will play 26 games against 10 teams that advanced to the postseason in 2001, seven of which reached a regional final.

Clemson has had success against top-25 teams in the Jack Leggett era. The Tigers have 92 wins against top-25 teams since 1994, including five wins last season.

Clemson Picked to Win ACC The Atlantic Coast Conference’s nine head coaches selected Clemson as the top pick to win the conference championship in 2002 with five first place votes and 77 points.

The Tigers return seven position players and three starting pitchers from their 2001 squad which finished second in the ACC regular season standings and compiled an overall record of 41-22.

In the voting, Florida State finished a close second with 74 points and four first place votes after finishing the 2001 season as the regular season champion. ACC Tournament Champion Wake Forest finished in third place tallying 57 points. The Demon Deacons finished last season with a 44-18 overall record.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets fill the fourth place slot with 56 points, while North Carolina placed fifth in the balloting with 45 points. The Tar Heels were followed by N.C. State who finished with 33 points and then Duke with 29 points. Virginia was selected to finish eighth with 24 points and Maryland ninth with nine points.

2002 ACC Coaches Preseason Predicted Order of Finish        School          Points          2001 Record/Finish        1. CLEMSON (5)          77              41-22, 17-7 ACC        2. Florida State (4)    74              47-19, 20-4 ACC        3. Wake Forest          57              44-18, 16-8 ACC        4. Georgia Tech         56              41-20, 13-11 ACC        5. North Carolina       45              31-26, 9-15 ACC        6. N.C. State           33              32-29, 9-15 ACC        7. Duke                 29              23-33, 10-13 ACC        8. Virginia             24              25-31, 9-15 ACC        9. Maryland             9               17-37, 4-19 ACC

Four Tigers Named Preseason All-Americans Steve Reba and Jarrod Schmidt have been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association 2002 preseason All-America teams.

Johnson and Baker were selected to the first team, Reba was a second-team selection while Schmidt garnered third-team honors. Baker and Schmidt were also named to Baseball America’s 2002 Preseason All-America teams. Baker was a first-team selection, while Schmidt garnered second-team honors.

Scouting directors of Scouting directors of major league clubs voted on the Baseball America preseason teams and made their selections based on performance, talent and major league potential.

Tigers Eyeing Return to OmahaJack Leggett’s program will be looking to repeat some of its own recent history in 2002 with a return to the College World Series. After losing in the Super Regional to Texas A&M in 1999, the 2000 team came back strong and advanced to Omaha. Now, the 2002 Tigers hope to advance past last year’s Super Regional loss to eventual national champion Miami and make Clemson’s 10th appearance in the College World Series.

Omaha is literally on the minds of the players everyday. All of their hats have the word “Omaha” stitched inside the paw on the back of their caps. As a part of their warmups for practice, the players jog to the outfield and touch the banner signifying Clemson’s last CWS appearance in 2000. On their way in and out of the clubhouse from the dugout, players touch a home plate that hangs on the wall. The plate is a memento from one of the Tigers’ CWS appearances in the 1990s that Head Coach Jack Leggett had dug up from Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. The 2002 team is hoping to add its own memorabilia to the Clemson baseball tradition.

Captains Named for 2002 Season Outfielder Kyle Frank, third baseman Khalil Greene, first baseman Steve Reba have been named team captains for the 2002 season head baseball coach Jack Leggett announced. “After looking at the voting, the team decided we have a lot of capable leaders, but this group stands out,” Leggett said. “I think they will be outstanding leaders that will help guide this team to where it plans to be at the end of the year. All four are good examples of what this program is about in all different ways.”

Radio and Televison Schedule Announced Fifty of Clemson’s 56 regular season baseball games and all postseason games will be broadcast live on the radio in joint partnership between Clemson Tiger Sports Properties and WCCP-FM (104.9) in Clemson. In addition, the Tigers will have six games televised by either Fox Sports Net South or Comcast/Charter Cable. Clemson Tiger Sport Properties will broadcast 36 regular-season Clemson baseball games this season, including all 24 conference games. The broadcast schedule also features 12 non-conference games, including all four games with South Carolina, two games with Georgia, one game each with Coastal Carolina, Winthrop, Wofford and a three-game series with Maine, the alma mater of Clemson head coach Jack Leggett.

The network will also broadcast all postseason contests, including all games the Tigers play at the ACC Tournament and in the NCAA Tournament. Additionally, WCCP in Clemson will broadcast another 14 games giving the Tigers a radio presence in 50 of its 56 regular season games. Ed Jensen will handle the play-by-play duties for games on WCCP.

The Tigers will play three games on Fox Sports Net South, two as part of the ACC baseball package – vs. Wake Forest and at Virginia – and another vs. Georgia Tech. Clemson will also play three games – two vs. South Carolina and another vs. Wofford – on Comcast/Charter Cable.

Corbin, O’Sullivan Promoted Clemson baseball coaches Tim Corbin and Kevin O’Sullivan received promotions in the offseason. Corbin will now have an associate head coach and recruiting coordinator title, while O’Sullivan will be assistant head coach and pitching coach. Corbin is in his ninth year with the program, while O’Sullivan is in his fourth season.

This is the second promotion for Corbin since he has been at Clemson. He was named assistant head coach in 1998. All nine of his recruiting classes at Clemson have been ranked in the top 25 in the nation, including the 1999 class, which was ranked number-one. Clemson has advanced to the NCAA Tournament all eight of his previous seasons at Clemson.

O’Sullivan has been at Clemson since the 1999 season as the Tigers pitching coach. The Tigers have ranked among the national leaders in team ERA each of the last two seasons and the team had a 2.27 strikeout/walk ratio in 2001, fourth best in school history. One of his prot current senior Steve Reba, led the ACC in wins last year with a 12-3 record.

Bakich Named Volunteer Assistant Coach Erik Bakich is the newest addition to the Clemson coaching staff. Bakich comes to Clemson from East Carolina where he served as assistant strength and conditioning coach.

“We are extremely pleased to add Erik to our staff,” said Head Coach Jack Leggett. “He comes from an excellent program and he was an excellent player. He is highly motivated and will bring a lot of energy as we strive towards our goal of getting to Omaha.” Bakich was a standout baseball player for East Carolina from 1999-2000 where the team won back-to-back CAA Conference championships and earned number one seeds at the LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette Regionals. Bakich was named to the All-Regional team at LSU as a third baseman after garnering a unanimous All-Tournament selection at the Bell South Hurricane Classic in Miami, FL in the 1999 season.

After the 2000 season, Bakich signed a professional contract with the Springfield Capitals of the Frontier League in the Independent Professional Baseball League. He also played professional baseball during the 2001 season before moving on to East Carolina as an assistant strength coach.

“This is a tremendous opportunity and I am definitely excited to be here at Clemson,” said Bakich. “I feel fortunate to be part of such a great tradition and a great program.”

Recruiting Class Ranked Seventh by Collegiate Baseball The Clemson baseball recruiting class that enrolled in school in August was ranked seventh in the nation by Collegiate Baseball, the magazine announced last fall. Clemson had the highest-ranked class in the ACC. Only two other schools were ranked in the top 30. Florida State was ranked ninth and Georgia Tech was ranked 14th.

“I’m extremely excited about the potential of this class,” said ninth-year head coach Jack Leggett. “Our staff has done a good job at getting these guys to come to Clemson, now it is up to them to go out there and perform. So far, I’m encouraged by what I see from this group.”

The class consists of 11 newcomers, nine freshmen and two junior college transfers, and features five players who were drafted in June’s MLB amateur draft. Tyler Lumsden was a fifth-round draft pick by the Florida Marlins. He is joined by other draftees David Slevin (11th, Rockies), Garrick Evans (23rd, Blue Jays), Bart Hunton (46th, Reds) and Collin Mahoney (48th, Angels).

“Every year that (associate head coach) Tim Corbin has been at Clemson, his hard work has paid off,” Leggett said. “Together with (assistant head coach) Kevin O’Sullivan, they have been able to identify talent that has found success here. The three of us work well together in the recruiting process.”

Clemson One of Six Teams Never to Miss Super Regional Round Clemson’s 8-2 victory over Seton Hall last June marked the third consecutive year that Clemson has advanced to at least the Super Regional of the NCAA Tournament, which expanded from a 48- to 64-team field prior to the 1999 season. The expansion created the Super Regional Round, which pits the winners of 16 sub-regionals with the victors there advancing to the College World Series.

The Tigers won the Fayetteville, AR Regional in 1999 to advance to the Super Regional at Texas A&M, while last year the Tigers won the Clemson Regional and advanced to host Mississippi State in the Super Regional.

Clemson is one of just six schools to appear in all three Super Regional rounds. The Tigers are joined by Florida State, LSU, Miami, Southern California and Stanford to make a Super Regional every year.

Clemson in the NCAA Tournament Clemson made its 27th appearance in the NCAA Baseball Tournament in 2001, the seventh-best total in the nation. It marks the 15th consecutive selection for the tournament, which is the third longest active streak. The Tigers are 73-57 all-time in the NCAA tournament with nine appearances in the College World Series. Clemson finished as the regular season runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season behind Florida State. Clemson was 17-7 in ACC action and 41-22 overall, including a 27-8 mark at home.

Return of the Long Ball The proliferation of home runs returned to Clemson in 2001. The Tigers smashed 85 home runs this season. That is more than double the 2000 season out put of 37 dingers. Fifteen of the 37 homers in 2000 came at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, while Clemson has more than tripled the total and hit 54 out of Kingsmore Stadium in 2001. The fences to the stadium were moved in 10 feet prior to the start of 2001. Jeff Baker total of 23 led the ACC a season ago. Michael Johnson finished fourth in the league with 17. Jarrod Schmidt also hit 15 home runs to tie for sixth in the ACC.

Khalil Greene came on strong at the end of the season and finished with 12. He joins Baker, Schmidt and Johnson with at least 10 home runs this season. Clemson last had four players with 10 or more home runs in 1997 when five players had double-digit totals. Matthew LeCroy led the Tigers with a school best 24, followed by Kurt Bultmann (16), Gary Burnham (15), Jason Embler (14) and Matt Padgett (13).

Baker, Baker, RBI Maker The leader of the 2001 attack on offense was undoubtedly Jeff Baker, who is the top returning power hitter in college baseball this season. Not only were his 23 home runs the second-best total in school history, but his 75 RBIs led the ACC and were the ninth best total in school history.

Top Five Home Run SeasonsPlayer               Year    GP      HREric Macrina    1991    69      24Matthew LeCroy  1997    64      24Jeff Baker      2001    61      23Jim McCollom    1985    64      21Keith Williams  1993    65      19

Baker has also hit 34 home runs in his first two years, which is the school record for home runs hit during a player’s freshman and sophomore years. His 34 home runs in his first two seasons are five more than Matthew LeCroy, who is tied for the most career home runs with 53. LeCroy hit 29 home runs by the end of his sophomore season in Clemson (1996). Jarrod Schmidt and Michael Johnson are tied fifth most by a freshman and sophomore.

Most Home Runs in First Two SeasonsPlayer          Fr./So. Career  YearsJeff Baker      34      34      2000-01Matthew LeCroy  29      53      1995-97Patrick Boyd    25      28      1998-01Kurt Bultmann   21      43      1996-99Joe DeBerry     20      35      1989-91Shane Monahan   20      32      1993-95Jim McCollom    20      52      1982-85Michael Johnson       20      20      2000-01Jarrod Schmidt  20      20      2000-01Mike Couture    19      32      1987-90Keith Williams  16      35      1991-93Ray Williams    14      34      1984-87Jim Crowley     12      43      1988-91

Multiple Home Run Games The feat of one player homering twice in a game was a somewhat frequent occurrence for the Tigers in 2001. The two home runs hit by Michael Johnson in a 17-1 win over Virginia on May 12 marked the 10th time in the 2001 season that a Tiger hit two home runs in the same game. Jeff Baker hit in the North Carolina game on April 28 marked the fifth time that season and the seventh time of his career that he hit two homers in the same game. He leads Clemson in that category. Jarrod Schmidt is the only other current Tiger with multiple home runs in more than one game. He hit two home runs April 6 at Florida State and again April 14 vs. Duke. The 10 multi-home run games this season is the most in school history.

Multi HR Games in 2001Player       Multi HR GamesJeff Baker      5Michael Johnson       3Jarrod Schmidt  2

Multi HR Games in a Season by Individual Player Multi HR Games Year Jeff Baker 5 2001 Matthew LeCroy 4 1997 Eric Macrina 3 1991 Michael Johnson 3 2001

19 tied at 2 including current Tigers: Jarrod Schmidt 2 2001 Jeff Baker 2 2000

Records in Range for Greene Khalil Greene assured himself a spot in the Clemson batting record books last season when he set new standards for being hit by a pitch in an inning (2), game (3), season (21) and career (47). But the senior looks to set more notable records with another standout season in 2002. Greene currently is ranked near the top of many career categories at Clemson including tied for fourth in doubles (62), eighth in RBIs (185), ninth in hits (269), at-bats (784) and total bases (418) and 18th in batting average (.343). The outstanding defensive player also set a new Clemson mark last season for fielding percentage by a shortstop. His .965 fielding percentage broke Bill Spiers record.