Play Ball! Tigers Open Season Friday Versus James Madison

Play Ball! Tigers Open Season Friday Versus James Madison

Feb. 16, 2006

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Clemson (0-0), ranked as high as #1 in the nation, will open its 2006 schedule when it plays host to James Madison (0-0) this weekend in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Game times are 4:00 PM (Friday), 2:00 PM (Saturday), and 1:00 PM (Sunday). All three games will be broadcast live on the radio by WCCP (104.9 FM) out of Clemson. Live stats will be available at for all three games.

The Series Clemson and James Madison have met 15 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 13-2 lead in the series dating back to the 1976 season. The two teams last played a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium from February 25-27, 2000. Clemson swept that series by a combined score of 22-8. The Tigers have also won seven games in a row over the Dukes, all at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. James Madison’s last win over the Tigers was on May 10, 1979 at Harrisonburg, VA by a score of 7-4.

Clemson leads 12-0 all-time in games played at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Tiger Head Coach Jack Leggett is 7-0 against the Dukes as Clemson’s head coach, all being played at home. Leggett and Clemson matched up against a #25 James Madison team in 1995, as the Tigers came away with 5-0 and 16-6 victories. Leggett was also 0-2 against James Madison as head coach at Vermont, therefore is 7-2 all-time versus the Dukes.

The Starting Pitchers In game one, James Madison will start junior righthander Travis Miller on the mound. Last year, the Harrisburg, PA native made just two appearances, both in relief, and allowed one run on four hits in 6.0 innings pitched with eight strikeouts. The Tigers will counter with junior righty Jason Berken on Friday. The De Pere, WI native missed all of 2005 due to an arm injury. In 2004, he was 5-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 10 starts. He also had a .181 opponents’ batting average. Clemson has played 74 games and there have been 631 calendar days since Berken’s last appearance on the mound.

In game two, the Dukes will start senior lefty Greg Nesbitt on the mound. The Drumore, PA native made five starts and one relief appearance in 2005. He was 1-2 with a 7.66 ERA in 24.2 innings pitched, and allowed 37 hits and nine walks with 15 strikeouts. Clemson will counter with junior righthander Stephen Faris on Saturday. The Richmond, VA native was 6-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 10 starts and 10 relief appearances in 2005. He also allowed just 89 hits and 25 walks with 79 strikeouts in 97.0 innings pitched on his way to earning Second-Team All-ACC honors.

In game three, James Madison will send out sophomore righthander Ryan Reid on the mound. The Portland, ME native was 3-5 with a 5.75 ERA in 12 starts and four relief appearances as a freshman in 2005. He also allowed 98 hits and 21 walks with 76 strikeouts in a team-high 81.1 innings pitched. The Tigers will start senior righty Josh Cribb on Sunday. The Lake View, SC native was Clemson’s best pitcher during the late stages of 2005, when he had a 3.54 overall ERA and 8-5 record in 15 starts and four relief appearances. He also yielded 119 hits and 24 walks with 97 strikeouts in 109.1 innings pitched.

James Madison Overview The Dukes are led by ninth-year Head Coach Spanky McFarland and have yet to play a game this year. They are coming off a 2005 season with a 20-35 overall record and 8-16 record in the Colonial Athletic Conference. The team returns 19 lettermen in 2006 while only losing five, and eight of the nine position starters from a year ago also return. Furthermore, the team returns 10 pitchers while only losing three.

Senior infielder Nate Schill is one of the team leaders at the plate. Last season, the Audubon, NJ native hit .303 with six homers and 41 RBIs. He is the brother of Vaughn Schill, who was a star shortstop at Duke in the late 1990s. Senior infielder Michael Cowgill led the team in homers (14) and RBIs (49) a season ago. He also had a .425 on-base percentage and led the team in slugging percentage (.647).

Junior shortstop Davis Stoneburner is the brother of future Tiger righthander and infielder Graham Stoneburner. Graham, a Richmond, VA native, signed with the Tigers this past fall and will be a freshman during the 2007 season. Another Duke has ties to the Clemson program in junior utility player Mitchell Moses. He is the older brother of former Tiger signee Matt Moses, who was drafted in the first round in 2003 and never enrolled at Clemson.

Clemson Overview Clemson enters the opening series against James Madison ranked #1 in the nation by Baseball America. The Tigers are coming off a 43-23 season in 2005 when it came within one win of the College World Series. The Tigers return eight position starters, losing only Kris Harvey. Harvey was tied for second in the nation in home runs with 25. The Tigers also return most of their pitching staff. Two Tigers who will play prominent roles this weekend against James Madison (located in Harrisonburg, VA) are natives of Virginia. Third-baseman Herman Demmink is from Midlothian, while righthander Stephen Faris, who is slated to start game two of the series, is from Richmond.

82.6 That is the percentage of starts made by Tiger players in 2005 that return in 2006. Clemson returns eight of its nine position starters, losing only first-team All-American Kris Harvey. The Catawba, NC native was tied for second in the nation in homers with 25 a season ago, as his power numbers will be missed. However, all eight position starters that take the field are back, including freshman All-Americans Brad Chalk (CF) and Taylor Harbin (2B). If one excludes the DH position and just looks at the eight starters in the field, Clemson returns 96.4 percent of the starts made by Tiger players in 2005.

The pitching staff also returns much of the starts. Lefthander Robert Rohrbaugh (16), Harvey (13), a righty, and righthander Jeff Hahn (2) were all drafted and are not back for 2006, however, all nine other Tiger hurlers who made an appearance on the mound in 2005 return. And Clemson is bolstered with the return of righthander Jason Berken, who missed the entire 2005 season due to injury after he was expected to be the Friday starter. The Tigers also welcome the addition of Steve Richard, who was Maine’s #1 pitcher in 2005 on the Black Bear’s NCAA Tournament team.

Tigers Earned 19th Straight NCAA Appearance Clemson finished the 2005 season with a 43-23 overall record, earning its 19th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. It was also the 20th consecutive season the Tigers won at least 39 games. Clemson advanced to the Waco (TX) Super Regional, losing in three games, after going 3-0 in the Clemson (SC) Regional. It was the Tigers’ fifth super regional appearance in the seven years of its existence.

Worth Noting * Clemson will play its first six and last seven regular-season games of the season at home. In between, the Tigers will play 20 road games among the remaining 43 games. * With Boston College giving the ACC 12 teams in 2006 and the fact that each team still plays only 30 regular-season conference games, each team will not play a single league foe. Clemson will not play North Carolina during the regular season in 2006.

Polls Clemson remained in the #1 spot in the Baseball America poll on Monday, replacing Texas in the top spot two weeks ago after the Longhorns were swept in three games at San Diego from February 3-5. The Tigers are also #5 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. There will not be another Sports Weekly poll released until later this month, as Clemson was ranked #3 in its preseason poll.

The #1 ranking is the first for the Tigers since May 13, 2002, when Clemson was ranked #1 in all three major polls. It is the earliest #1 ranking for the Clemson program in history, as the earliest #1 ranking prior to this was on March 20, 2000, when Collegiate Baseball had the Tigers #1. It is also the 17th week Clemson has been ranked #1 by at least one of the major polls in just over 12 seasons under Head Coach Jack Leggett.

Tigers Picked to Finish First in ACC By Coaches Clemson was picked to finish first in the ACC by the 12 league coaches in the preseason. The Tigers received eight first-place votes and had 139 points, ahead of second-place Georgia Tech, who had 128 points and two first-place votes. North Carolina was picked third with 126 points and two first-place votes.

Baseball America’s Bests Prior to each season, Baseball America breaks down the nation’s best players by tools, class, and other superlatives. This year, several Tigers are on its lists. Among players with the best tools, Brad Chalk has the ACC’s best outfield arm, Andy D’Alessio is the ACC’s best defensive first baseman, and Taylor Harbin is the ACC’s best defensive second baseman.

Among players by class, righthander David Kopp is the nation’s 16th-best sophomore, Harbin is the nation’s 23rd-best sophomore, shortstop Stan Widmann is the nation’s 32nd-best sophomore, and Chalk is the nation’s 44th-best sophomore. Among future draft prospects, righthander Jason Berken is rated as the ACC’s ninth-best prospect for the 2006 draft, while Kopp is the ACC’s fourth-best prospect for the 2007 draft. Righthander Steve Richard, a transfer from Maine, is listed as the ACC’s fifth-best newcomer as well.

Harbin on Player-of-the-Year Watch List Sophomore second-baseman Taylor Harbin (Travelers Rest, SC) is one of 120 players on the 2006 Wallace Award Watch List, which goes to the nation’s top player. He is also a preseason first-team All-American according to Collegiate Baseball after earning second-team All-America honors by the same publication in 2005. He became the first Tiger freshman in history to earn All-America honors after hitting .343 with 28 doubles, 10 homers, and 63 RBIs in starting all 66 games at second base.

Storrer Enters 2006 on a 10-Game Hit Streak Senior outfielder Travis Storrer (Mount Vernon, WA) enters the 2006 season on a 10-game hitting streak. He also hit safely in 29 of the last 30 games of the 2006 season.

Berken Returns Jason Berken will make his first appearance on the mound in 632 days when he starts the opening game of the season on Friday. The De Pere, WI native suffered an arm injury that required “Tommy John” surgery in 2004, causing him to miss the entire 2005 season. He was slated to be the Friday starter last season and bolsters an already strong pitching staff in 2006. In two seasons, the team co-captain has a 9-3 record and 2.90 ERA in 18 starts and 11 relief appearances for a total of 105.2 innings pitched. He also has allowed just a .229 opponents’ batting average.

Cribb Control Senior righthander Josh Cribb (Lake View, SC) exhibited excellent control as both a starter and reliever in 2005. In 15 starts and four relief appearances, he had a 3.54 ERA against outstanding competition. He also struck out 97 against only 24 walks (four of which were intentional), good for a 4.0-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In over three seasons with the Tiger program, he has made 17 starts and 35 relief appearances for a total of 195.0 innings pitched. He has a 3.65 career ERA and has allowed just 45 walks while striking out 174. His 2.08 walks per nine innings pitched mark is second-best in school history. His 3.87 strikeout-to-walk ratio is also second-best in school history.

Richard on Stopper-of-the-Year Watch List Junior righthander Steve Richard (pronounced rih-SHAHRD) was one of 30 players named to the NCBWA Stopper-of-the-Year Award Watch List on February 6. The Billerica, MA native, who transferred to Clemson in the offseason after starring for two seasons at Maine, is one of five ACC hurlers on the list. He made 26 starts and five relief appearances during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, amassing a 13-3 record and 2.49 ERA in 170.0 innings pitched. He is slated for the closer role for the Tigers in 2006, and is rated as the fifth-best newcomer in the ACC by Baseball America.