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Clemson vs. Mississippi State Super Regional Preview

Clemson vs. Mississippi State Super Regional Preview

June 7, 2007

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Tigers Advance to Starkville Super Regional Clemson (41-21), ranked as high as #5 in the nation, will play in the Starkville (MS) Super Regional at #17 Mississippi State (36-20) beginning Friday at Dudy Noble Field. Friday’s game will start at 12:00 PM EDT (ESPN) and Saturday’s game will start at 12:00 PM EDT (ESPN2). Sunday’s game (if necessary) will start at 1:00 PM EDT (ESPN). Mark Neely and Buck Martinez will be ESPN’s announcers.

A coin flip will determine the designated home team (third-base dugout) in game-one. The visiting team in game-one will be the home team in game-two. Another coin flip will determine the home team for a potential game-three.

The winner of the best-of-three series will advance to the College World Series in Omaha, NE from June 15-25. The winner of the Starkville Super Regional will face the winner of the Chapel Hill (NC) Super Regional in the opening round in Omaha on June 15. North Carolina will play host to South Carolina in the Chapel Hill Super Regional.

All of Clemson’s super regional games will be broadcast live on the radio by the Clemson Tiger Sports Network. Live stats will also be available at for all games of the super regional.

Tigers to Play in Seventh Super Regional Clemson will be making its seventh super regional appearance in the ninth year of the super regional format in 2007. Only one team (Miami (FL)) will have played in more. The Tigers played in the College Station (TX) Super Regional in 1999, falling in game three. In 2000 and 2002, Clemson won its own super regional to advance to Omaha. In 2001, the Tigers lost both games at Miami (FL), while in 2005, Baylor defeated the Tigers twice in three games. During the 2006 season, the Tigers beat Oral Roberts twice in two games in the Clemson Super Regional.

Tigers’ Path to Omaha on the Road Clemson’s path to the College World Series will have to be achieved with victories away from Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers won the Myrtle Beach Regional with three straight wins from and will travel to Starkville, MS for the super regional.

If Clemson reaches the College World Series this year, it will be just the seventh school to get there without playing a home NCAA Tournament game since 1999, the year the NCAA adopted the super regional format. One of the six previous schools to do it was Cal State Fullerton, who was a #1 seed in its regional, but had to play at Notre Dame. The Titans won that regional, then won the super regional at Ohio State.

Miami (FL) is the only school to do it in the last two years. The Hurricanes won a regional at Nebraska last year, then won a super regional at Mississippi. It has happened just twice in the same year one time, in 1999 when Cal State Fullerton and Oklahoma State accomplished the feat. Current Clemson Athletic Director Dr. Terry Don Phillips was the athletic director at Oklahoma State when the Cowboys achieved the feat.

Clemson is off to a good start with the regional win at Myrtle Beach last weekend against host Coastal Carolina. It marked Clemson’s 10th NCAA Regional or Super Regional title under Jack Leggett, but just the second that was claimed away from home. It marked the first time the Tigers had won a regional somewhere other than Clemson since 1999, when Clemson won a regional at Arkansas.

Clemson beat host Coastal Carolina twice tow win the Myrtle Beach Regional this past weekend. It marked the first time since 1977 that Clemson defeated the host school twice in the same regional to win title. Clemson last did it at Miami (FL) in 1977.

The last time Clemson advanced to Omaha with a regional or super regional triumph somewhere other than Clemson was in 1991, when the Tigers won a regional at Maine. One of Clemson’s wins in Orono was an 8-6 victory over Mississippi State in its third game of the regional.

Overall, Clemson has gone to the College World Series 11 times. Five of the 11 have been celebrated with regional or super regional titles away from home (1958,59,76,77,91). Clemson has gone to the CWS off regional or super regional wins in Clemson in 1980,95,96,00,02,06.

The Bulldogs Mississippi State (36-20), ranked as high as #17 in the nation, enters the Starkville Super Regional after capturing the Tallahassee (FL) Regional last weekend. The Bulldogs defeated Stetson 6-3 in the opener, then beat #3 Florida State twice on its home field by scores of 3-0 and 9-4. Mississippi State is 22-8 at home and was 15-13 in SEC regular-season games. The 2007 season marks the school’s 28th NCAA Tournament berth and third super regional appearance.

Mississippi State is led by 28th-year Head Coach Ron Polk, whose 1,348 wins as a head coach at a Division I program is the fourth-best mark among active coaches. Polk also served a brief stint as at Georgia in between two different stints at Starkville.

The Bulldogs are hitting .316 with a .382 on-base percentage and 42 stolen bases in 62 attempts. Brandon Turner is hitting a team-best .400 with two homers and 43 RBIs, while Edward Easley is batting .367 with 12 homers and 61 RBIs, both team-bests. Mitch Moreland is also hitting .333 with eight home runs and 56 RBIs. The team is fielding at a .965 clip as well.

The pitching staff has a 4.76 ERA and .292 opponents’ batting average. It has also allowed just 155 walks with 467 strikeouts, good for a 3.01 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Six different Bulldogs have accounted for the team’s 16 saves. Ricky Bowen has a 5-2 record along with a 3.27 ERA and five saves, both team-bests. Moreland has a 3.34 ERA and four saves, and has allowed just three walks with 27 strikeouts in 19.0 innings pitched.

The Tigers Clemson (41-21), ranked as high as #5 in the nation, enters the Starkville Super Regional coming off three wins in three games at the Myrtle Beach Regional last weekend. Clemson rallied to down Saint John’s 3-2, then defeated #10 Coastal Carolina twice by scores of 11-8 and 15-3. 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. It is also the seventh super regional appearance for the Tigers.

The Tigers, who are 12-9 on opponents’ home fields, are led by 14th-year Head Coach Jack Leggett. His 649 wins are fourth-most in college baseball during his tenure. The Tigers are also 11-7 against top-25 ranked teams in 2007, including winning 10 of their last 12.

The team is hitting .293 with a .374 on-base percentage. Brad Chalk is hitting a team-best .384 with a .503 on-base percentage. Doug Hogan is hitting .339 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs along with a current 13-game hitting streak, while Marquez Smith is batting .329 with 13 homers and 56 RBIs. Andy D’Alessio has hit a team-best 16 homers, while Taylor Harbin has added 10 homers and 59 RBIs.

The pitching staff has a 3.65 ERA and .261 opponents’ batting average. It has combined to strike out 516 against 222 walks. Daniel Moskos has a team-high six saves and 2.91 ERA, while Stephen Clyne has a 2.28 ERA along with three saves in 30 relief appearances. The team is fielding at a .971 clip as well.

The Series This will be the second straight year and the third time since 2000 that Clemson will meet Mississippi State in the NCAA Tournament. Clemson won last year’s meeting at Clemson by a score of 8-6 to clinch the Clemson Regional title. The Tigers also won a super regional at Clemson over the Bulldogs in 2000 with a pair of wins in two games. Clemson won a 10-9 contest over Mississippi State in 1991 at Orono, ME as well.

Clemson is 4-0 against Mississippi State in NCAA Tournament play and 8-3 overall. That includes a 4-3 lead in games played in Starkville. Jack Leggett is 3-0 as Clemson’s head coach against Mississippi State and 4-2 overall, as he was 1-2 against Mississippi State at Western Carolina. The series dates to the season-opening game of 1968. Clemson won a doubleheader to open the 1968 season under Bill Wilhelm. Clemson won a pair of seven-inning games by scores of 6-3 and 2-1 in Starkville. John Curtis, who went on to pitch in the Major Leagues with the Boston Red Sox and other clubs, earned the win in the first game, as he struck out 10 in just 7.0 innings pitched.

Clemson won two of three games at Mississippi State in 1971, then the Tigers lost two-straight, low-scoring games in 1973, the last year of the wooden-bat era. Mississippi State won 2-1 and 2-0 in a pair of seven-inning games in 1973 in Starkville.

Clemson’s win in the 1991 NCAA Tournament in Orono, ME was high-scoring. Many sons or brothers of famous sports people had a hand in that win 16 years ago. Joe DeBerry was the hitting star with two home runs and six RBIs. Both the RBI and home run totals are still tied as Clemson records in NCAA Tournament competition. DeBerry is the son of former Air Force Head Football Coach Fisher DeBerry.

Supporting DeBerry offensively were Mike Spiers and Jim Crowley. Spiers, the brother of former Major League shortstop Bill Spiers, had a 2-for-5 day at the plate, while Crowley was also 2-for-5. Crowley is the son of former Major Leaguer Terry Crowley.

The Tigers swept Mississippi State with consecutive wins in 2000 in a super regional at Clemson. Khalil Greene, the starting shortstop for the San Diego Padres, had two doubles and a 3-for-4 day at the plate in a 11-4 Tiger win in the opener of the super regional. Clemson won an NCAA tournament game last year by an 8-6 score at Clemson.

Clemson did play at Mississippi State in the 1992 NCAA Regional, but never played the Bulldogs.

2006 Meeting in Clemson Regional Clemson had already showed powerful pitching and swift-striking offense in the NCAA Tournament. On June 4, the Tigers showed they could play from behind as well.

After Mississippi State used a four-run sixth to put Clemson behind for the first time all regional, the Tigers came right back with three runs to retake the lead on the way to a 8-6 victory and a spot in the super-regional round.

Taylor Harbin had three RBIs, including the game-winner in the decisive rally. When the Tigers returned to the dugout, the mood was not of panic or fear, Harbin said. It was one of determination and resolve.

“We really just said, ‘We need to scratch a couple of runs to get us back in the swing of things,'” said Harbin, voted the regional’s MVP. “To come out and scratch three runs on top of their four was just a big confidence booster for us.”

The Tigers, the tournament’s top-overall seed, had breezed through the bracket with powerful offense and crisp pitching, never trailing in wins over North Carolina-Asheville (3-0) and Elon (13-3) to reach the championship game.

Things looked good again, as Clemson (50-14) went ahead 4-1, helped by Harbin’s RBI double in the first and run-scoring bunt in the third.

The Bulldogs (37-23) of the SEC proved tough, taking a 5-4 lead in the sixth.

But it was Harbin again in the middle of the winning rally. Marquez Smith on third base. Harbin followed with a long fly into the right-field corner that easily brought in Smith to put Clemson back on top.

Andy D’Alessio added an RBI single to end the Tigers’ rally. Harbin finished the three games with seven RBIs.

Harbin also showed his style in the field, ranging wide to his left to snag a ball in the ninth, turned and threw – a la Derek Jeter – to get the game’s next-to-last out.

Closer Daniel Moskos got the final eight outs for his 10th save. David Kopp (5-1), the third of four pitchers, picked up the win.

Head Coach Ron Polk used Brett Cleveland, a senior reliever, in a starting role for the first time in 70 career appearances. For a while, it looked like Polk’s gamble might work.

After his shaky start, Cleveland kept Clemson off balance through six innings, as his teammates rallied to the front. But Cleveland had nothing left as he started the seventh – this was his longest college outing ever – and Clemson battled back off reliever Chad Crosswhite (0-3).

“I knew I was going to have to give my best effort and give the team some innings,” Cleveland said. “So I tried to give us six or seven innings and keep us in the game. I did that, but we just fell short.” The game was delayed more than two hours because of rain.

Leggett No Stranger to Starkville Clemson will be making its first trip to Starkville, MS this weekend under Head Coach Jack Leggett, but the Tiger skipper is certainly no stranger to the home of the Bulldogs. As head coach at Western Carolina, he took his Catamount program to three consecutive NCAA Regionals at Starkville.

Leggett’s most successful trip to Starkville took place in 1987, when he guided the Southern Conference champions to a 2-2 record at the six-team regional. The Catamounts lost their opening game to Oklahoma State, but rebounded with wins over Purdue and Mississippi State before being eliminated from by the Cowboys. He also took the 1988 and 1989 Western Carolina teams to Starkville for the NCAA Tournament. The Catamounts were eliminated in two games both those years.

Leggett has also traveled to Starkville as a member of the Clemson coaching staff. As a first-year assistant under Bill Wilhelm in 1992, he helped the Tigers claim their 50th win of the season with an 8-4 win over Yale in the opening round. However, Clemson was eliminated from the regional after losses to UCLA and Oklahoma.

As a head coach, Leggett is 1-2 all-time versus the Bulldogs in Starkville. He has coached in 11 games at the Bulldogs’ home field, including eight as a head coach and three as an assistant coach.

The Starting Pitchers In game-one, Mississippi State will start sophomore righthander Chad Crosswhite (8-4, 4.16 ERA) on the mound. The Brandon, MS native has made 11 relief appearances and nine starts for a total of 71.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 95 hits (.318 opponents’ batting average) and 25 walks with 61 strikeouts. Opponents have stolen just three bases in 11 attempts off Crosswhite as well.

The Tigers will counter with junior lefty Daniel Moskos (3-5, 2.91 ERA) on Friday. The Alta Loma, CA native has made 17 relief appearances and nine starts for a total of 74.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 71 hits (.261 opponents’ batting average) and 33 walks with 74 strikeouts, and has two saves.

In game-two, the Bulldogs will send out junior lefthander Justin Pigott (6-6, 4.31 ERA) on the mound. The Picayune, MS native has made 14 starts and one relief appearance for a total of 102.1 innings pitched. He has two complete games, and has yielded 116 hits (.287 opponents’ batting average) and 21 walks with 70 strikeouts.

The Tigers’ starter for Saturday has yet to be determined, and both teams’ starters for a potential game-three on Sunday have not been determined.

Polls Clemson jumped to the #9 spot in the Baseball America poll and #5 in the Collegiate Baseball poll on Tuesday after going 3-0 in the Myrtle Beach Regional last week. Clemson also stayed at #17 in the Sports Weekly poll, as it will not release another poll until after the College World Series.

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.

39 Wins With a 3-2 win over Saint John’s in the Myrtle Beach Regional on June 1, Clemson reached the 39-win mark for the 22nd year in a row. Clemson is one of only a handful of schools with such a streak of 39-win seasons.

Five Named to Regional All-Tournament Team Five Tigers were named to the Myrtle Beach Regional All-Tournament team, as the Tigers captured the title by going 3-0 at Coastal Federal Field from June 1-4. Three Tiger infielders were represented, including first-baseman Brad Chalk and catcher Doug Hogan also made the 11-player team. D’Alessio was named Myrtle Beach Regional MVP after going 6-for-12 with three doubles, two homers, six RBIs, and and six runs scored in three games.

Clemson Offense Closes Fast in Regional Clemson’s 20 hits against #10 Coastal Carolina in the Myrtle Beach Regional Championship game on June 4 were the most by the Tigers since they had 21 hits in a win over Gardner-Webb on March 27. It was just the third time all year Clemson collected 20 hits or more in a game. It was just four hits shy of the Tiger record for an NCAA Tournament game.

Clemson enters the super regional having scored in double-figures in consecutive games, 11-8 and 15-3 wins over Coastal Carolina in the Myrtle Beach Regional. It marks just the fourth time this season Clemson has scored in double-figures in consecutive games.

The 15-3 win was Clemson’s largest margin of victory in an NCAA Tournament game since a 21-1 win over East Carolina at Clemson in 2002. The 12-run victory margin was also the largest by the Tigers in an NCAA Tournament game against the host school. The previous best was an eight-run margin in a 13-5 win at Maine in 1991 and a 12-4 win at Arkansas in 1999.

Leggett Third-Youngest to Reach 1,000 Wins Head Coach Jack Leggett earned his 1,000th career victory on March 25, 2007 when the Tigers defeated Maryland in College Park by a score of 5-0. Leggett, who began his head coaching career at Vermont when he was just 23, became the third-youngest coach in Division I history to reach 1,000 wins.

Leggett was 53 years and 20 days (March 5 is his birthday) when he gained victory #1,000. Gene Stephenson, currently the head coach at Wichita State, holds the record for the youngest coach to win his 1,000th game. He won his 1,000th game in 1995 when he was just 49 years, eight months, and six days. Larry Hays of Texas Tech won his 1,000th in 1995 at 50 years, nine months, and 15 days.

Leggett is now third with his 53 years and 20 days. Right behind him on the list is his adversary this weekend, Mississippi State Head Coach Ron Polk. Polk picked up his 1,000th win on February 27, 1997 at the age of 53, one month, and 15 days, a little less than a month older than Leggett.

According to our research below, seven head coaches have reached 1,000 wins before they turned 54. Two of the seven will be coaching in the 2007 Starkville Super Regional.

D’Alessio’s Loves the Road For Andy D’Alessio, he would probably prefer playing on the road rather than at home. His numbers this season back that up. In 35 home game in 2007, the senior first-baseman hit just .262 with eight homers and 26 RBIs. But in 26 games away from home, including 21 on opponents’ home fields and five at neutral sites, he is batting a team-best .405 with nine doubles, a triple, eight homers, 21 RBIs, a .489 on-base percentage, and .848 slugging percentage.

D’Alessio Named Myrtle Beach Regional MVP Andy D’Alessio was named Myrtle Beach Regional MVP for his performance in three games from June 1-4, as Clemson captured the regional title with a 3-0 record. He was 6-for-12 (.500) with six runs scored, three doubles, two homers, six RBIs, and a 1.250 slugging percentage. D’Alessio was 0-for-4 against Saint John’s, therefore he was 6-for-8 (.750) with six runs scored, three doubles, two homers, and six RBIs in two games at #10 Coastal Carolina.

Clemson Takes Myrtle Beach Regional Title Clemson won all three of its games in the Myrtle Beach Regional by a combined score of 29-13 at Coastal Federal Field from June 1-4 to capture the regional title. The Tigers totaled eight doubles, two triples, and five homers, hitting .375 in the regional. Doug Hogan was 7-for-13 (.538), Marquez Smith added two homers, six RBIs, and six runs scored. The Tiger pitching staff had a 3.33 ERA as well.

In the first game of the Myrtle Beach Regional on June 1, Brad Chalk two-out, run-scoring single in the ninth inning capped Clemson’s 3-2 come-from-behind win over Saint John’s. Clemson tied the score in the eighth inning on Chalk’s infield single, but the Red Storm’s two-out rally in the top of the ninth put the Tigers behind a run again. Hogan hit a one-out triple in the bottom of the ninth, then scored on a wild pitch on ball #4 to Daniel Moskos pitched 8.0 strong innings, allowing only one run on seven hits. He also retired the last 12 batters he faced.

In the Tigers’ second game of the Myrtle Beach Regional on June 3, D’Alessio went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a homer, and four RBIs to lead Clemson to an 11-8 win over #10 Coastal Carolina. Boyd, D’Alessio, Harbin, and Hogan all had three hits apiece in Clemson’s 16-hit attack. Clemson took a 4-1 lead in the first inning, then D’Alessio hit a two-run homer in the second inning. D’Alessio’s double helped score Smith in the seventh inning to give Clemson a 7-6 lead, then the Tigers added four runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by Smith’s two-out, three-run homer on an 0-2 pitch. Ryan Hinson earned the win in relief, as he got out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth to keep the score tied.

In the championship game of the Myrtle Beach Regional on June 4, Clemson pounded out 20 hits en route to a 15-3 victory over #10 Coastal Carolina. Four different Tigers had at least three hits for the second game in a row, led by Smith’s four hits, including a homer, four runs scored, and three RBIs. Chalk added three hits, while D’Alessio was 3-for-4 with a homer, double, and three runs scored. Harbin had three hits, including a homer, three runs scored, and four RBIs. The Tigers broke the game open with five runs in the third inning and six runs in the fourth inning. Starter D.J. Mitchell pitched 5.0 innings to earn the win, allowing six hits, one run, and one walk with six strikeouts.