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Nation’s Top Two Teams To Square Off in Tigertown This Weekend

Nation’s Top Two Teams To Square Off in Tigertown This Weekend

May 16, 2002

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Top-ranked Clemson (44-9, 16-5 ACC) will play host to #2 Florida State (48-12, 15-6 ACC) this weekend in a pivotal ACC series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Game one Friday will start at 7:15 PM. Game two will begin at 7:00 PM, while the series finale Sunday will start at 2:00 PM. All three games will be broadcast on the radio by Clemson Tiger Sports Properties and can be heard live via the internet at Live stats will also be available on Clemson’s website.

Depending on what happens in other ACC teams, Clemson can finish anywhere from first to fourth in the league, while the Seminoles can finish anywhere from first to fifth. Wake Forest (15-5) is a half-game behind the Tigers and North Carolina (16-5) in the league standings. Wake Forest is at Duke this weekend, while North Carolina travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech (12-8).

It will be a matchup of the top two teams in the nation according to the ESPN/Baseball Weekly poll. Clemson holds the top spot in that poll, while the Seminoles are ranked second. Clemson is actually ranked #1 in all three polls, a statement the Tigers have made seven consecutive weeks.

This will be the first time since the 1994 season that Clemson has been involved in a #1 vs. #2 game. That year Clemson played seven games as the #1 team in at least one poll against a team that was ranked #2 in the nation according to at least one poll. The Tigers had a 5-2 record in those #1 versus #2 matchups that year. All seven of the games took place between May 7-20, 1994. Those are the only games in history that Clemson has been involved in a #1 versus #2 game.

This will be just the second time Doug Kingsmore Stadium has played host to a #1 vs. #2 matchup. The only other time the opponent was Florida State. May 7-9, 1994, a #1 Clemson team (Collegiate Baseball) faced a #2 Florida State team (Baseball America). Clemson won the first two games of the series, 5-2 and 9-5, before losing 8-3 in the third game.

Clemson actually was involved in a #1 vs. #1 series the next weekend. May 13-15 of 1994, Clemson was ranked #1 by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball Weekly, while Georgia Tech was ranked #1 by Baseball America. It is still believed to be the only time two #1 ranked teams have faced each other in college baseball history. Clemson won two of the three games of that series.

The Seminoles lead the all-time series 46-40-1 dating back to 1958, including a three-game sweep in Tallahassee a season ago and a 5-4 win in the 2001 ACC Tournament. Two seasons ago, Clemson swept Florida State at Doug Kingsmore Stadium and downed the Seminoles 8-4 in the ACC Tournament. Since joining the ACC, Florida State has just two wins in 15 games at Clemson. Head Coach Jack Leggett is 16-19 against Florida State as the Tiger skipper, including a 10-2 record at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The Seminoles will send out junior lefty Matt Lynch (11-1, 3.31 ERA) to the mound in game one. Lynch has pitched 100.2 innings in 2002, allowing just 24 walks while striking out 75. Game two will see senior righty Blair Varnes (6-3, 4.34 ERA) start on the mound. Varnes is third in ACC history with 37 career wins and has walked just 14 batters in 76.2 innings pitched this season. Sophomore righty Marc LaMacchia (8-1, 3.44 ERA) will start game three. He has allowed just 17 walks while striking out 60 in 68.0 innings pitched this year. Florida State has a 4.03 team ERA and is allowing just 2.47 walks per nine innings pitched.

Clemson will start senior righty Steve Reba (11-1, 3.48 ERA) in game one. Reba has 31 career wins, fourth most in Clemson history and tied for 12th most in ACC history, and is only the third Tiger pitcher to win 10 or more games in back-to-back seasons. Junior righthander Matt Henrie (10-2, 2.73 ERA) carries the ACC’s third-best ERA into action in game two Saturday. The final game will see freshman lefty Tyler Lumsden (2-0, 4.50 ERA) take to the hill in his third start. In his only two starts, both against ACC teams, Lumsden has not allowed a run in 13.1 innings pitched. Clemson has an ACC-best 3.86 ERA.

Florida State, led by 23rd-year Head Coach Mike Martin, enters the regular-season finale with a .317 team batting average and a .967 fielding percentage. Those marks increase in conference play, including a .330 batting average and .975 fielding percentage against the ACC. Freshman Stephen Drew, brother of Major Leaguer and former Seminole star J.D. Drew, leads the team with a .390 batting average to go along with 11 homers and 41 RBIs in just 141 at-bats. Ryan Barthelemy has 16 homers and 80 RBIs to go along with his .378 batting average. Eight different players have hit at least five homers, as the Seminoles have hit 70 homers in 60 games. They also have a 14-8 record on opponents’ home fields, including a 3-6 record in conference play, but has not played a road game since April 17 and has not played a road ACC game since March 31. The Seminoles have won 14 games in a row dating back to a loss at Jacksonville on April 17.

Clemson, led by ninth-year Head Coach Jeff Baker, Khalil Greene, and Michael Johnson have combined for 57 homers this year, tying the Tiger single-season record. Baker also set the career Clemson record for homers with his 54th Wednesday. Clemson is hitting .334 as a team, second-best in the ACC, and is led at the plate by Greene with a .481 batting average. That figure is currently best ever in a single-season in ACC history. Greene is also riding a 19-game hitting streak into this weekend’s action. The Tigers have also hit 83 homers as a team and are slugging at a staggering .545 clip. Clemson also sports a .971 team fielding percentage.

The series also features players from opposing teams who were high school teammates. Tiger second baseman Matt Henrie (Jupiter), David Slevin (Port Saint Lucie), and Roberto Valiente (Tampa).