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Tigers to Face Arizona State in Super Regional in Tempe, AZ this Weekend

Tigers to Face Arizona State in Super Regional in Tempe, AZ this Weekend

June 4, 2009

Complete Game Notes

Tigers Advance to Tempe Super Regional Clemson (44-20), ranked as high as #13 in the nation, will play in the Tempe (AZ) Super Regional at #2 Arizona State (47-12) beginning Saturday at Packard Stadium. Saturday’s game will start at 9:00 PM EDT (ESPNU) and Sunday’s game will start at 10:00 PM EDT (ESPN2). Monday’s game (if necessary) will start at 7:00 PM (ESPN2). Eric Collins and Morgan Ensberg will provide commentary on the ESPN family of networks.

Arizona State will be the designated home team in Saturday’s game, while Clemson will be the designated home team in Sunday’s game. A coin flip will determine the designated home team for a potential game-three on Monday.

The winner of the best-of-three series will advance to the College World Series in Omaha, NE from June 13-24. The winner of the Tempe Super Regional will face the winner of the Chapel Hill (NC) Super Regional in the opening round in Omaha on June 14. North Carolina will host East Carolina in the Chapel Hill Super Regional.

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

Tempe Super Regional Tickets To purchase all-session tickets, contact the Arizona State Athletic Ticket Office at (480) 727-0000. To purchase single-game tickets for the Tempe Super Regional, visit TheSunDevils.com.

Clemson’s NCAA Tournament History The 2009 season marks Clemson’s 34th trip to an NCAA Regional dating back to the 1947 season. That year, Clemson actually advanced to the Final Eight of the NCAA Tournament, but it is not considered a College World Series season because only two teams went to the CWS in those days.

Clemson won the 1947 District III Tournament in Charlotte by coming through the losers’ bracket. The Tigers, coached by Randy Hinson, lost in the first round to Alabama 8-2, then came back with a win over Auburn and two wins over Alabama to advance. Clemson’s season ended when Yale, led by future President George H.W. Bush, defeated the Tigers in New Haven, CT by a score of 7-3. Bush was 1-for-3 as the starting first baseman.

Clemson made its first trip to Omaha and the College World Series in 1958 when the Tigers again came through the losers’ bracket. After losing to Florida in the first round, Clemson came back to defeat George Washington, Florida State, and Florida twice to advance under first year Head Coach Bill Wilhelm. Clemson defeated Florida 15-14 and 3-1 on June 9 to advance. Harold Stowe struck out 17 in that second game on June 9, and that is still a Clemson single-game record for strikeouts in an NCAA Tournament game.

The Tigers advanced to Omaha in 1959, this time with three easy wins; one over Georgia Tech and two over Florida State. One of the wins over the Seminoles was a 24-2 victory at Gastonia, NC. That tally is still tied for the most runs scored by Clemson in an NCAA Tourney game.

The Tigers did not advance to Omaha again until 1976. In fact, Clemson made just one NCAA Tournament appearance between 1960 and 1974. That was in 1967 when Clemson reached the Regional Championship, but lost to Auburn 6-5.

Clemson made it to Omaha three out of five years between 1976-80. Clemson won a regional in Columbia, SC in 1976 with three straight wins, then came through the losers’ bracket in Miami (FL) in 1977 to advance to Omaha, where the Tigers lost their first game at the hands of Arizona State by a score of 10-7. The 1980 season was the first year Clemson played host to a regional, as Clemson swept three games by scoring 45 runs, including 17 in a 17-12 win over South Carolina.

Clemson has been to the NCAA Tourney every year since 1987 except 2008. The Tigers have been to the NCAA Tourney 22 of the last 23 years. Clemson also made College World Series trips in 1991, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, and 2006.

Overall, Clemson has been to a regional in 34 seasons, sixth-most all-time. Clemson’s all-time record in NCAA play is 101-71, a 58.7 winning percentage.

Clemson is 56-31 (.644) under Head Coach Jack Leggett in NCAA Tournament play, including a 36-6 record (.857) in home NCAA Tourney games. Leggett has taken Clemson to a regional 15 times in the 16 years he has been Clemson’s head coach, and the Tigers have advanced to the College World Series five times. Leggett has also taken Clemson to a super regional eight of the first 11 years that format has been in existence.

Clemson to Play in Eighth Super Regional Clemson will travel to Arizona State for the Tempe Super Regional this weekend. It will be the Tigers’ eighth super regional appearance in the 11 years of the format. Since 1999, Clemson has missed playing in a super regional just three times (2003,04,08). Clemson has been to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1987, with the exception of the 2008 season.

Clemson is tied for fifth in the nation in super regional appearances. Cal State Fullerton, Florida State, Miami (FL), and Rice have all been to nine super regional tournaments (including this year), while Clemson is tied with Louisiana State for fifth. Arizona State will be making its fifth super regional appearance, tied for 10th-most in the nation.

In terms of all-time wins in regional and super regional play, Clemson has 88, tied for seventh-most in NCAA history. Arizona State has 83, tied for 10th-most in NCAA history.

Scouting Arizona State Arizona State, led by 15th-year Head Coach Pat Murphy and ranked as high as #2 in the nation, enters the Tempe Super Regional against #13 Clemson with a 47-12 overall record and 21-6 Pac-10 mark after winning the Tempe Regional with a 3-0 record. The Sun Devils are making their 33rd NCAA Tournament appearance, seventh-most in NCAA history, and fifth super regional appearance, tied for 10th-most in NCAA history.

Arizona State, who had the best regular-season record in the Pac-10, has a 79.7 winning percentage, the best mark in the nation. The Sun Devils, who have a 34-4 home record, have won 14 of their last 15 games.

Arizona State is averaging 8.1 runs per game and hitting .303 with a .497 slugging percentage and .420 on-base percentage thanks to 350 walks and 64 hit-by-pitches. The team has also totaled 109 doubles, 29 triples, 70 home runs, and 104 stolen bases in 139 attempts.

The Sun Devils have only allowed 11 first-inning runs all year and are 13-1 against lefty starters. Arizona State is 7-3 in one-run games and 6-1 in two-run games, meaning it is 13-4 in games decided by two runs or less. The Sun Devils are 36-0 when outhitting their opponents and 7-11 when they get outhit, while they are 44-0 when leading entering the eighth inning and 46-0 when leading entering the ninth inning. Like the Tigers, Arizona State has not lost more than two games in a row all season as well.

Jason Kipnis is hitting a team-best .387 with 20 doubles, four triples, 15 homers, 68 RBIs, a .500 on-base percentage, and 24 steals in 28 attempts. Johnny Ruettiger is hitting .350 with 10 steals in 80 at-bats, while Carlos Ramirez is batting .341 with 18 homers and 69 RBIs, both team-highs. Drew Maggi (20), Raoul Torrez (15), and Kole Calhoun (10) have all totaled double-digits in stolen bases as well.

The pitching staff leads the nation in ERA (2.79) and has a .234 opponents’ batting average along with 542 strikeouts against only 143 walks (3.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio) in 526.2 innings pitched. Freshman lefthander Mitchell Lambson and freshman righty Jordan Swagerty are tied for the team-lead with four saves apiece. The Sun Devils are fielding at a .969 clip as well.

One of the nation’s best pitchers is junior righthander Mike Leake (15-1, 1.23 ERA). In 124.2 innings pitched over 16 appearances (15 starts), he has allowed just 71 hits (.169 opponents’ batting average), two home runs, two stolen bases in five attempts, and 20 walks with 143 strikeouts. He also has pitched seven complete games. Junior lefty Josh Spence is 8-1 with a 2.37 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 79.2 innings pitched over 15 appearances (12 starts) as well.

Scouting Clemson Clemson (44-20), ranked as high as #13 in the nation, enters the Tempe Super Regional at #2 Arizona State coming off capturing the Clemson Regional title with a 4-1 record last weekend. Clemson was 19-11 during the ACC regular season, finishing in third place in the ACC standings. Clemson is making its 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 23 years, its 34th overall, sixth-most in the nation, and eighth super regional appearance, tied for fifth-most in NCAA history.

The Tigers, who are 10-9 on opponents’ home fields, are led by 16th-year Head Coach Jack Leggett. His 724 wins are tied for sixth-most in college baseball during his tenure. The Tigers are also 8-9 against top-25 ranked teams in 2009, including 6-6 against top-five ranked teams.

The team is hitting .303 with a .457 slugging percentage and .392 on-base percentage. Clemson, who has 310 walks against just 398 strikeouts, has also stolen 80 bases in 105 attempts.

Ben Paulsen is hitting a team-best .369 with 18 doubles, four triples, 13 homers, and 60 RBIs. Wilson Boyd is hitting .492 in the last 15 games. Overall, Boyd is batting .349 with 46 RBIs. Mike Freeman had 11 hits in the Clemson Regional and is hitting .338 with 44 RBIs, while First-Team All-ACC outfielder Jeff Schaus is hitting .326 with 12 home runs, 49 RBIs, and 42 walks against only 28 strikeouts. Kyle Parker has added 12 homers and 52 RBIs.

The pitching staff has a 3.57 ERA and .250 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed 195 walks against 534 strikeouts, good for a 2.7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Tomas Cruz and Matt Vaughn are tied for the team-lead with four saves apiece, while freshman righthander Scott Weismann is 3-1 with a 1.23 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched over 17 appearances (three starts). The Tigers are fielding at a .967 clip as well.

The Starting Pitchers Both team’s starting pitchers have yet to be announced for the Tempe Super Regional.

The Series Clemson and Arizona State have met on the diamond just once previously. It came in the 1977 College World Series in Omaha, NE, as the Sun Devils came away with a 10-7 victory. Clemson entered the game with a 41-8 record and had been ranked as high as #1 in the nation after a 26-0 start, still the longest winning streak in Clemson history. Arizona State finished the year with a 57-12 record and won the College World Series with a 2-1 victory over South Carolina.

The Tigers started Bill Musselman, who went on to play in the Major Leagues with the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays and had a 12-0 record entering the game. However, he had to face an Arizona State lineup that had five future Major Leaguers in the batting order (Jamie Allen, Chris Bando, Hubie Brooks, Bob Horner, Chris Nyman). Horner went 3-for-5 and Allen went 3-for-4. Allen and Nyman also hit home runs.

Clemson was led by Dave Caldwell, who had three doubles and three RBIs. The three doubles are still tied for the most doubles in a College World Series game, as he was named to the All-College World Series team for his performance. Steve Nilsson hit the only home run for Clemson, who pulled to within 10-7 with two runs in the ninth inning but could get no closer.

Battle of Outstanding Pitching Staffs Based on the pitching stats of Clemson and Arizona State, there might be low-scoring games this weekend. Arizona State is first in the nation in ERA (2.79), while Clemson is fifth (3.57).

Both schools used outstanding pitching to advance to super regional play. In posting a 3-0 record in the Tempe Regional, Arizona State had a 1.67 ERA, the second-best figure in the 64-team field in regional play. Clemson had a 4-1 record with a 2.25 ERA. That was the fourth-best ERA in the regional round.

If the season ended today, Clemson’s national ERA standing would tie for its second-best national finish in that category in school history. Clemson’s 1996 team led the nation with a 3.03 ERA thanks in part to future Major League pitchers Kris Benson, Billy Koch, and Ken Vining. The 1984 and 1992 teams also finished fifth in the nation in ERA.

Clemson has a 2.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year, the second-best mark in school history. The only team with a better figure in school history is the 1996 team that had 663 strikeouts and 210 walks for a 3.16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 2006 team that went to the College World Series is third at 2.61.

One will notice that each of the top-six schools in the nation in terms of ERA are still alive in the NCAA Tournament.

Clemson vs. Pac-10 Conference Clemson has an 8-16 lifetime mark against Pac-10 schools, including a 1-7 mark in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers’ only NCAA win over a Pac-10 team took place in the 1958 College World Series, a 3-1 win over Arizona behind a 16-strikeout performance by Harold Stowe. That was Clemson’s first-ever game in the College World Series.

The Tigers have not beaten a Pac-10 school in the NCAA Tournament since then. Clemson has lost seven games in a row to the league in the NCAA Tournament, with the last game coming against Stanford in the 2000 College World Series.

This will be Clemson’s first game against a team from the Pac-10 since the 2001 regular season, when the Tigers defeated Oregon State in Las Vegas, NV by a score of 13-2 on February 25.

This will be Clemson’s first-ever game against a Pac-10 school on its home field.

Clemson vs. Pat Murphy This will not be the first time Clemson has faced Arizona State Head Coach Pat Murphy. Murphy brought Notre Dame to Clemson during the 1994 NCAA Tournament and his Fighting Irish came away with an 8-1 upset victory. Clemson was the #1 seed in that six-team regional and was the top-ranked team in the nation entering the NCAA Tournament.

Murphy was the head coach at Notre Dame from 1988-94. He left for Arizona State the following August, so his last games as Notre Dame head coach were at Clemson in that regional. Notre Dame lost to Auburn in the championship game of that regional.

Murphy has one connection to Notre Dame on his current Sun Devil roster. Freshman outfielder Johnny Ruettiger is the nephew of former Notre Dame gridder Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger. The movie “Rudy,” released in 1993, portrayed his life as a walk-on on Notre Dame’s football team in 1974 and 1975. Johnny Ruettiger attended the same high school (Joliet (IL) Catholic) as his uncle.

Johnny Ruettiger is no walk-on, as he is batting .350, second-best on the team. He has started 23 of the team’s 59 games. He was 3-for-6 with three RBIs and four runs in the Tempe Regional when he started all three games.

Long Trip for the Tigers Clemson will make its longest trip for an NCAA Tournament game in history when it travels to Tempe to face Arizona State. The trip is 1,664 miles and it is the longest trip for Clemson for an NCAA Tournament game by 573 miles. The second-longest trip was to Texas Tech and Lubbock, TX for the 1997 NCAA Central Regional.

This will be Clemson’s longest trip for any baseball game since the Tigers played in a regular-season tournament in Las Vegas, NV in February of 2001. Clemson’s longest trip in history for a baseball game took place in 1994, when Clemson played in a regular-season tournament in Hawaii. It is 4,573 miles from Clemson to Honolulu, HI.

This will be Clemson’s first-ever baseball games in the state of Arizona.

Tigers Face Another Traditional Power Clemson certainly does not have an easy path when it comes to getting to the College World Series this year. The Tigers had to defeat Oklahoma State to advance to the Tempe Super Regional and now must win at #2 Arizona State to reach the College World Series.

Oklahoma State made its 37th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this year, the fourth-most appearances in NCAA history. The Cowboys have been to the College World Series 19 times, tied for the fifth-highest total in NCAA history.

Arizona State is in the NCAA Tournament for the 33rd time, the seventh-highest figure in history. The Sun Devils have been to the College World Series 20 times, the fourth-highest figure in history. Arizona State has won the national title five times, finished second five times, and third five times.

Clemson is in the NCAA Tournament for the 34th time, sixth-most in history. Clemson’s 11 College World Series appearances are 11th-most as well.

Worth Noting • Clemson has won twice in one day on four different occasions in 2009, the most times that has happened since 1992. Prior to 2009, Clemson had a combined four days in the last seven years in which it won twice in one day.

Polls The Tigers moved up two spots to #14 in the Baseball America poll this week after going 4-1 in the Clemson Regional last week. Clemson also moved up two spots to #13 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. The Tigers were ranked #14 in the Sports Weekly coaches poll following the ACC Tournament, as that May 25 poll is the last Sports Weekly poll until the College World Series concludes.

Clemson has had at least one final top-25 ranking in 12 of Head Coach Jack Leggett’s first 15 seasons in Tigertown. The Tigers have also been ranked #1 for 20 weeks by at least one of the three major polls under Leggett.

Tigers Advance Through Losers’ Bracket Clemson advanced to the Tempe Super Regional by going through the losers’ bracket at the Clemson Regional. It marked just the second time that Clemson had gone through the losers’ bracket at a home regional or super regional. Overall, Clemson has made it through the losers’ bracket to win a regional or super regional six times, four away from home and two at home.

Clemson Win Total +13 Over 2008 Clemson has a 44-20 record entering the Tempe Super Regional. That is quite an improvement over last year when the Tigers had a 31-27-1 record. The 13-win improvement ties for the third-best mark in school history from one season to the next. The all-time record is a 17-win improvement from the 1990 to 1991 seasons. The Tigers made a 16-win improvement from 1957 to 1958 when Head Coach Bill Wilhelm took over and led the Tigers to the College World Series in his first year. Head Coach Jack Leggett took Clemson to a 12-win improvement in his first year in 1994 as well.

Tigers in Postseason in Three Major Sports Clemson has had a solid sports year, especially in the three major men’s sports. Clemson is one of 13 Division I programs to play in a bowl game, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Clemson is also one of just six to reach a super regional and play in the other two.

Joining Clemson on the list are three other ACC schools (Boston College, Florida State, North Carolina). The others on the list include Kansas, Louisiana State, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Utah.

This is just the eighth time in school history that Clemson has played in a bowl game, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, and NCAA Baseball Tournament in the same year.

The baseball program is the third Clemson athletic team to reach a “Sweet 16” of an NCAA Tournament this spring. The women’s tennis and rowing teams also accomplished that feat.

Leggett Coached & Played in the CWS Head Coach Jack Leggett is one of just 10 men in history to play as a student-athlete and coach a program in the College World Series. Leggett played in Omaha for Maine in 1976 and has coached Clemson five times (1995,96,00,02,06).

Five Tigers on Regional All-Tourney Team Five Tigers were named to the Clemson Regional All-Tournament team, as the Tigers captured the title by going 4-1 at Ben Paulsen (1B) and Wilson Boyd and designated hitter Chris Epps all made the team among position players. Lefthander Chris Dwyer was one of only two pitchers named to the team. Epps was named Clemson Regional MVP after going 10-for-19 (.526) with one double, two homers, six RBIs, seven runs, and a stolen base in five games.

Jackson Third Former Tiger in MLB in 2009 Former Clemson righthander Kyle Parker was knocking in what proved to be the winning runs in Clemson’s 6-5 regional win over Oklahoma State.

Jackson came in as a reliever and pitched an inning. He walked one and did not allow a hit in facing four batters, helping the Pirates to a come-from-behind 8-5 win. He was not involved in the decision.

Jackson pitched for the Tigers from 2001-04, including the 2002 team that finished tied for third at the College World Series. He had a career record of 19-8 with a 4.62 ERA. He also made 34 starts for the Tigers and pitched in relief in 33 games.

Jackson was on the New York Yankees’ active roster for a week in May, but he did not appear in a game even though he warmed up in the bullpen in at least one game. He was claimed by Pittsburgh and is now on its staff.

Jackson joins Kris Benson did it for the Pirates in 1999.

Tigers Rally to Claim Clemson Regional Title The #14 Clemson Tigers won four of five games in the Clemson Regional to win the title at Ben Paulsen also added two doubles, two homers, and five RBIs. The Tiger pitching staff had a 2.25 ERA as well.

In the Tigers’ first game of the Clemson Regional on May 29, Jeff Schaus’ two-run double in the ninth inning lifted Clemson to a 5-4 walkoff victory over Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles built a 4-1 lead in the top of the fifth before Schaus’ solo homer in the bottom of the fifth cut their lead to 4-3. The Tigers, who put their leadoff batter on base in each of the last seven innings, missed opportunities to tie the score in the sixth, seventh, and eighth. Addison Johnson led off the ninth with a single before Epps reached on a bunt single. Schaus later ripped a one-out double over the first-base bag to score Johnson from second and Epps from first for the winning run. Graham Stoneburner pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in relief of two-hit ball with five strikeouts to earn the win.

In the Tigers’ second game of the Clemson Regional on May 30, Neil Medchill’s two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth inning propelled Oklahoma State to a 3-2 win over Clemson. Tom Belza and Mark Ginther hit back-to-back homers in the seventh inning to give the Cowboys a 2-0 lead, then the Tigers responded with two runs thanks to four hits in a row in the top of the eighth. But Clemson left the bases loaded and Medchill’s single off Paulsen’s glove proved to be the difference. Clemson outhit the Cowboys 8-5, including two hits by Freeman and Paulsen. Tiger starter Casey Harman allowed just three hits, two runs, and two walks with eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched.

In the Tigers’ third game of the Clemson Regional on May 31, Scott Weismann pitched 8.0 scoreless innings and Clemson pounded out 14 hits en route to a 10-0 win over Tennessee Tech. The Tigers jumped out to a 5-0 lead with four runs in the third inning, highlighted by Paulsen’s two-run homer. Clemson added three more runs in the fourth inning and cruised the rest of the way. Epps went 3-for-3 with a homer, two RBIs, and two runs, while Paulsen went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. Weismann and David Haselden combined to limit the Golden Eagles to just four hits. Only one Golden Eagle advanced past first base and none advanced past second base as well.

In the Tigers’ fourth game of the Clemson Regional on May 31, Wilson Boyd went 4-for-6 with two doubles and four RBIs.

In the Tigers’ fifth game of the Clemson Regional, Clemson rallied from a 5-1 deficit to score five combined runs in the seventh and eighth innings and defeat Oklahoma State 6-5 and claim the Clemson Regional title. The Cowboys took a four-run lead in the top of the seventh thanks to three Tiger errors, but Epps’ two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning started the comeback. Then in the eighth inning, Kyle Parker lined a two-out, two-run single to give Clemson the lead for good. Matt Vaughn struck out Mark Ginther with two runners on base in the ninth inning to end the game. Vaughn pitched 3.2 solid innings without allowing an earned run to earn the win. All six Tiger runs and all 10 hits came with two outs as well.

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