Feb. 24, 2000
Clemson (5-1) faces James Madison on Friday (3:00), Saturday (2:00), and Sunday (2:00) in a matchup of quality pitching teams. The Tigers are coming off a three-game sweep of Old Dominion and look to continue the outstanding pitching that limited the Monarchs to only one earned run on 11 hits in three games. James Madison, who is 1-1 on an opponent’s home field, enters this weekend’s play with a 6-2 record, including winning two of three games over Penn State this past weekend and downing George Washington 13-5 on Tuesday. The Dukes stole nine bases in the game against the Colonials. The trip to South Carolina will be the second made this year by the Dukes, as they played in a tournament at Coastal Carolina from Feb. 12-13.
The two teams have met 12 times with the Tigers holding a 10-2 advantage. They last played in 1997 at Clemson. The Tigers won both of the mid-week games by 12-5 and 11-3 scores.
The Dukes, headed by third-year coach Spanky McFarland, are led at the plate by Steve Ballowe, who is hitting .407 with two homers and 10 RBIs. The Dukes have stolen 33-42 bases, led by Rich Thompson (10-10) and T Riley (9-10). The Duke pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.84 and has 89 strikeouts in 75.0 innings pitched (10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched). Friday’s starter on the mound will be sophomore righthander John Gouzd (0-1, 10.57 ERA). Red-shirt freshman righthander Mike Trussell (0-1, 5.79 ERA) will start on Saturday and freshman righthander Chris Cochran (2-0, 1.29 ERA) will start on Sunday.
Senior righthander Scott Berney (2-0, 0.00 ERA) will start on Friday for the Tigers. Senior righthander Ryan Mottl (2-0, 0.82 ERA) will start game two and freshman righthander Jarrod Schmidt (0-0, 1.80 ERA) will start game three.
Leggett Braceless Once Again
Head Coach Jack Leggett had a scary accident in which he nearly became paralyzed back in December while skiing in Colorado. He suffered a broken neck and wore a neck brace for over six weeks. Despite the serious injury, Leggett did not miss any preseason practice time.
Just after the meeting with the umpires and Old Dominion coach at home plate and right before Clemson’s team huddle on Feb. 18, Leggett tore off his neck brace and threw it away for good, surprising everyone except people that know the 45-year old coach. He did not coach in the third-base box in the ACC Disney Blast, but returned back to his spot for the Old Dominion series. Leggett still suffers from stiffness and the lack of full range of motion in his neck, but is on track to make a recovery.
ACC Playing the Best, Beating the Best
The ACC has a 13-5 record against non-conference ranked teams (by Collegiate Baseball) in the young 2000 season, including a 5-0 record by North Carolina, 4-1 record by Florida State, 2-0 record by Clemson, 2-1 record by Wake Forest, and 0-3 record by Virginia. Amazingly, 10 of the 13 wins have come against teams ranked in the top seven in the country. The SEC has four teams who have combined for a 3-6 record against non-conference ranked teams in 2000.
The ACC has not shied away from out-of-conference competition in recent years, as only the Pac-10 Conference can boast a winning record against the ACC in the last five years with a 25-23 advantage. The ACC has a 54-48 advantage over the SEC and 10-9 advantage over the Big XII over that span.
The ACC has been noted as well for producing top professional talent, as the league has had 24 first-round picks in the last six years, more than any other conference. The ACC also boasts four teams in the top 10 in most wins in the decade of the 1990s, as no other conference boasts more than one school in the top 10.
Clemson Climbs into Top 10 in Collegiate Baseball Poll
Clemson moved into the top 10 at #9 in Collegiate Baseball’s poll released Monday, Feb. 21. It is the first time Clemson has been ranked in the top 10 of any of the three polls since May 11, 1998, when USA Today ranked Clemson #9. There are four ACC teams ranked in the top nine in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll, including Florida State (#1), North Carolina (#4), and Georgia Tech (#6). The SEC has two teams ranked in the top 10 and no other conference has more than one team ranked in the top 10 by Collegiate Baseball. The Tigers are ranked #13 in this week’s USA Today Baseball Weekly poll, moving up five spots from last week, and #17 by Baseball America, a two-spot jump.
Berney, Mottl, & Co. Stepping Up on the Mound
Pitching was one of Clemson’s biggest concerns after last season’s disappointing 5.82 team ERA in ’99. But all indications point to a vast improvement in that area in the early going. Clemson has a 1.17 team ERA, and it isn’t due to playing second-rate competition. The Tigers allowed just six runs combined to three ranked teams (two of which were in the top seven in the nation) in the ACC Disney Blast and allowed just one earned run to Old Dominion, which has been a consistent 35+ win team year in and year out.
Senior transfer Scott Berney, who is 2-0 and has not allowed a run or walk in 14.0 innings, and others have brought a contagious attitude of aggressiveness and competitiveness to Kevin O’Sullivan’s pitching staff.
Along with Berney, Ryan Mottl has seemed to find himself again. He is 2-0 with an 0.82 ERA in 11.0 innings. He now has 289 career strikeouts and needs just 11 to become only the sixth Tiger in history to reach the 300 strikeout mark. Clemson has appeared to find a closer as well in junior college transfer Nick Glaser. In three shut-downs, he he has allowed no runs while strking out four in 3.0 innings and has two saves. As a whole, the Tiger pitching staff in 54.0 innings has allowed just 29 hits, seven earned runs, one homer, and 12 walks while striking out 45.
Bats Off to Slow Start
Clemson certainly hopes the saying, “hitting warms up with the weather” holds true. The Tigers’ .232 batting average appears on paper to be a detriment, but certain factors have played a key role in that stat. The Tigers have faced some outstanding pitching, including #4 Miami (FL), #7 Rice, #23 Central Florida, and Old Dominion. Plus, the ballpark at the ACC Disney Blast and Clemson’s Doug Kingsmore Stadium are not conducive to teams that hit for power with their long fences. In the three games at Clemson, stiff winds blew in from centerfield knocking many balls down. Add to the fact the rule change with the bat performance level and the inability to get into a rhythm with Clemson’s 18-day layoff between series, it is easy to understand the drop in numbers.
Tigers Allow Only One Earned Run in Sweep of Old Dominion
Tiger pitchers continued their impressive early showing by allowing just one earned run and 11 hits against Old Dominion as Clemson swept the Monarchs by 5-0, 3-1, and 10-2 scores from Feb. 18-20. The Monarchs hit just .121 while Tiger pitchers had an incredible 0.33 ERA.
Clemson blanked Old Dominion 5-0 in the first of three games from Feb. 18-20. Scott Berney pitched 7.0 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and no walks to get the win. Berney threw just 73 pitches (54 strikes). Ryan Riley led the Tiger offensive side with a 2-for-3 performance and three stolen bases.
Game two featured more outstanding pitching, as Steve Reba pitched 3.0 shutout innings in relief to pick pick up the win in the Tigers’ 3-1 victory. Clemson scored two runs in the eighth inning to go ahead for good. Patrick Boyd’s single and Khalil Greene’s double brought home the two runs. Boyd broke a 1-for-17 slump with a 2-for-2 performance. Nick Glaser pitched the ninth inning to pick up the save. Monarch pitchers allowed just four hits, but walked Tiger hitters eight times.
In game three, Michael Johnson hit two home runs and had five RBIs in Clemson’s 10-2 victory over the Monarchs. Johnson, a red-shirt freshman, hit the first two Tiger homers of the season in the game and hit the first two given up by Old Dominion in 2000. Johnson’s first inning grand slam gave the Tigers all the runs they would need. He ended the day with three hits and five RBIs. Ryan Mottl pitched 5.0 innings, allowing no runs and one hit to pick up the win.
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