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Top-Ranked Tigers Welcome Mercer for Three Game Series

Top-Ranked Tigers Welcome Mercer for Three Game Series

Feb. 23, 2006

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Clemson vs. MercerClemson (3-0), ranked as high as #1 in the nation, will play host to Mercer (8-2) this weekend in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Game times are 4:00 PM (Friday), 4:00 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 also be available at for all three games.

The SeriesClemson and Mercer have met 29 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 15-13-1 lead in the series dating back to the 1901 season. The two teams last played in 1978, as the Bears swept both seven-inning games of a doubleheader at Macon, GA on April 4. In 1977, Clemson won both games against Mercer at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The Tigers lead 5-0 all-time in games at Clemson and 4-0 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Tiger Head Coach Jack Leggett has never faced Mercer in his 26 previous seasons as a Division I head coach.

The Starting PitchersIn game one, Mercer will start junior righthander Brantley New (2-0, 1.12 ERA). The Dublin, GA native has made three starts for a total of 16.0 innings pitched. He has allowed just seven hits (.135 opponents’ batting average) and five walks with 20 strikeouts. The Tigers will counter with junior righthander Jason Berken (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on the mound Friday. The De Pere, WI native made his first appearance on the mound since 2004 last Friday after missing all of 2005 with an arm injury. Against James Madison, he pitched 5.0 innings, allowing just two hits, no runs, and one walk with nine strikeouts in Clemson’s 8-1 victory.

In game two, Mercer will send out senior lefthander Hunter Abercrombie (3-0, 0.95 ERA) on the mound. The Live Oak, FL native has made three starts and one relief appearance for a total of 19.0 innings pitched. He has yielded 16 hits (15 singles, one double) and three walks with nine strikeouts. Clemson will start junior righty Stephen Faris (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on the mound in game two Saturday. The Richmond, VA native struck out six, and did not allow a walk or run in 6.0 innings pitched to earn the win against James Madison last weekend. He also allowed just one hit.

In game three, the Bears will start senior lefty Shawn Barrett (1-0, 3.60 ERA) on the mound. The Scottsburg, IN native has made three starts for a total of 15.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 14 hits and six walks against 12 strikeouts. The Tigers will counter with senior righthander Josh Cribb (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on the mound Sunday. The Lake View, SC native earned the win against James Madison last Sunday by pitching 5.0 scoreless innings, and allowing just two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts.

The BearsMercer, led by third-year Head Coach Craig Gibson, enters the series with an 8-2 overall record after sweeping Bethune-Cookman in a three-game series last weekend. The Bears also defeated #1 Florida 3-2 in Gainesville, FL on February 15, and won series 2-1 against both Florida A&M and Virginia Military.The Bears are 7-2 at home and 1-0 on the road. Mercer has outscored its opponents 17-2 in the first inning and 12-0 in the second inning, therefore has outscored its opponents 29-2 in the first two innings.

The team is hitting .296 overall with a .395 on-base percentage. Mercer has also hit 12 homers, 19 doubles, and has stolen 16 bases in 20 attempts. First-baseman Shawn Barrett, who is scheduled to start on the mound on Sunday, leads the team with a .419 batting average. Catcher Josh Thompson has a team-high four homers and eight RBIs, while second-baseman Sean McCahill is hitting .371 with 11 runs scored and a .522 on-base percentage thanks to eight walks.

The pitching staff has a 2.60 ERA and .230 opponents’ batting average. The staff has struck out 83 against only 25 walks, good for a 3.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It has also yielded four home runs. The starting rotation of righthander Brantley New, lefthander Hunter Abercrombie, and Barrett, a lefty, has combined for a 6-0 record, 1.80 ERA, 41 strikeouts, and 14 walks in nine starts. Senior righthander Andrew Urena has three saves and has not allowed a run in 9.0 innings pitched over seven relief appearances. He has also struck out 13 against only one walk.

The Bear defense has a .967 fielding percentage, committing 13 errors in 10 games.

The TigersClemson, ranked as high as #1 in the nation by Baseball America, enters the series against Mercer with a 3-0 record after sweeping James Madison last weekend at Doug Kingsmore Stadium by a combined score of 17-2. The Tigers are hitting .286 as a team with a .389 on-base percentage. Clemson has also hit six doubles, five homers, and five sacrifice bunts with seven stolen bases in eight attempts.

Adrian Casanova is hitting a team-best .571 (4-for-7) with a homer and three RBIs, while Herman Demmink is hitting .500 (5-for-10) with two stolen bases. Tyler Colvin has hit three solo homers in the first three games, while Marquez Smith has also hit a long ball. Travis Storrer has hit safely in 31 of the last 33 games as well.

The pitching staff has a 0.33 ERA and .111 opponents’ batting average. The staff has also allowed just one extra-base hit (a triple) and seven walks against 36 strikeouts, good for a 5.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The starting rotation of righthanders Jason Berken, Stephen Faris, and Josh Cribb are a combined 3-0 and have not allowed a run in 16.0 innings pitched. The trio has also allowed just five hits and two walks with 22 strikeouts. Junior righthander Steve Richard has the team’s lone save. The team has committed just one error as well, good for a .991 fielding percentage.

Clemson has three natives from the state of Georgia, where Mercer is located (Macon). Injured lefty William Bond (Lawrenceville), righthander Drew Fiorenza (Atlanta), and utility player John Ingram (Alpharetta) are all from the Peach State.

Worth Noting* Clemson has won 10 games in a row at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, which includes the last seven home games of 2005 and three games this season.

PollsClemson was in the #1 spot in the Baseball America poll on Monday for the third-straight week. The Tigers are also #2 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 on February 6 was the first for the Tigers since May 13, 2002, when Clemson was ranked #1 in all three major polls. It was the earliest #1 ranking for the Clemson program in history, as the earliest #1 ranking prior to that was on March 20, 2000, when Collegiate Baseball had the Tigers #1. The Tigers’ #1 ranking this week is also the 18th week Clemson has been ranked #1 by at least one of the major polls in over 12 seasons under Head Coach Jack Leggett.

Harbin Hampered By Hamstring StrainTaylor Harbin was hampered by a hamstring strain during Clemson’s series against James Madison from February 17-19. He started the first game, but left the game after the second inning and did not play in the last two games of the series. In his only at-bat, he hit a run-scoring single in the first inning. His status for the Mercer series is listed as doubtful.

Colvin Packing PowerJunior outfielder Tyler Colvin (North Augusta, SC) hit three home runs in one day during a doubleheader against James Madison on February 17. He entered the 2006 season with just seven career homers in his first two seasons, but his stellar performance on that Friday came as no surprise to Head Coach Jack Leggett. He has seen Colvin add strength each season thanks to his dedication in the weight room. He is still a lanky 6’3″, 190 pounds, but is a five-tool player who has good speed and has made several good running catches in left field.

In three seasons, Colvin is a career .286 hitter with 10 homers and 75 RBIs in 120 games (99 starts).

Storrer Hitting Safely in 31 of Last 33 GamesSenior outfielder Travis Storrer (Mount Vernon, WA) entered the 2006 season hitting safely in 29 of the last 30 games. He had one hit in two of the first three games of 2006, therefore has hit safely in 31 of the last 33 games.

Berken ReturnsJason Berken made his first appearance on the mound in 632 days when he started the opening game of the season in the first game of a doubleheader against James Madison on February 17. 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. Against the Dukes, he pitched 5.0 innings to earn the win. He allowed just two hits, no runs, and one walk with nine strikeouts.

In three seasons, the team co-captain has a 10-3 record and 2.77 ERA in 19 starts and 11 relief appearances for a total of 110.2 innings pitched. He also has allowed just a .225 opponents’ batting average.

Tigers Sweep James Madison to Open SeasonClemson swept James Madison by a combined score of 17-2 in the season-opening, three-game series from February 17-19 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Tiger batters combined for a .286 batting average and seven stolen bases, but the story for Clemson was its outstanding pitching. The staff allowed just 10 hits, two runs (one earned), and seven walks with 36 strikeouts in 27.0 innings pitched. The three starting pitchers combined for 16.0 innings pitched, and allowed just five hits, no runs, two walks, and 22 strikeouts. Adrian Casanova went 4-for-7 in the series.

In the season-opener and the first game of a doubleheader on February 17 against James Madison, Jason Berken pitched 5.0 scoreless innings in his first outing in nearly two years to earn the victory in Clemson’s 8-1 win. Berken struck out nine batters, while only allowing two hits, no runs, and one walk. Colvin added two home runs, both solo shots. It was his first career two-homer game. Casanova went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs. Marquez Smith also had three runs scored in his first game as a Tiger. Clemson outhit the Dukes 11-4, as nine different Tigers had at least one hit.

In game two, which was the second game of a doubleheader on February 17, three Tiger pitchers combined to allow just one hit in Clemson’s 3-0 victory. James Madison managed just one single and a walk, as the Dukes sent 29 batters to the plate in the game. Stephen Faris allowed only one hit and no walks with six strikeouts in 6.0 innings pitched to earn the win against the team from his home state of Virginia. Steve Richard earned his first career save by pitching a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts. Colvin added another solo homer, giving him three in one day. Smith also hit his first career long ball as a Tiger. The game duration was just under two hours (1:59).

In game three on February 19, Clemson won 6-1 despite totaling just two RBIs thanks to several James Madison miscues. The Tigers scored three runs in the fourth inning without the benefit of an RBI and with only one hit, a leadoff single by Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and Demmink had a game-high three hits. Josh Cribb earned the win by pitching 5.0 innings, allowing two hits, no runs, and one walk with seven strikeouts.