Clemson vs. Florida State
Clemson (24-7, 3-3 ACC), ranked as high as #13, will travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State (31-5, 9-3 ACC) this weekend in a key ACC road series. Florida State, who is 25-1 at home, will be playing its final ACC home series of the season. The two teams both rank in the top three in the nation in most wins in the last nine years (entering 2003), as Florida State is first (478) and Clemson third (434).
The games on Friday and Saturday will both start at 7:00 PM, while game three Sunday will start at 1:00 PM. All three games will be broadcast live on the radio by Clemson Tiger Sports Properties and can be heard live via the internet at www.clemsontigers.com. Live stats will also be available for all three games on Clemson's website. Saturday's game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net South, while the games on Friday and Sunday will both be televised live by the Sunshine Network.
Florida State holds a 51-40-1 advantage in the series dating back to 1958, Bill Wilhelm's first of 36 years as Clemson's head coach. Last season, the Seminoles won all five meetings, including three at Clemson and two at the ACC Tournament. They also won all four meetings in 2001, as Florida State has a current nine-game winning streak. Prior to that streak, Clemson had won five in a row in the series. Clemson's last win at Tallahassee came in the second game of a three-game series in 1999.
Jack Leggett is 16-24 against Florida State as Clemson's skipper, including 2-10 at Dick Howser Stadium. Michael Johnson has had the most success against the Seminoles among Tigers, as the fifth-year senior is 12-for-34 (.353) with two homers in nine career games. Patrick Hogan has a 2.45 career ERA in 11.0 innings pitched. He also has struck out eight without allowing a walk.
The Starting Pitchers
Florida State will send out three lefthanders against Clemson, who is hitting .326 against southpaws this year. Junior Trent Peterson (6-0, 1.95 ERA) will take to the mound in game one Friday for the Seminoles. He is allowing opponents to hit just .183 and has 64 strikeouts against only 16 walks this year. Senior Matt Lynch (7-2, 3.52 ERA) will start game two. The Fort Pierce, FL native has 36 career wins, ranking fourth-best in ACC history. The ACC record for career wins is 44, held by former Tiger lefty Brian Barnes (1986-89). Senior Daniel Davidson (5-0, 1.66 ERA) will start the series finale Sunday. Davidson, who has started four games and appeared in 11 others, has struck out 41 against only nine walks this year. The Seminole staff has excellent control, as it is averaging just 2.46 walks per nine innings pitched and has thrown just eight wild pitches all year. The staff also has a 2.49 team ERA and .223 opponents' batting average.
Clemson will counter with sophomore lefthander Tyler Lumsden (6-0, 1.89 ERA) on Friday. Lumsden is holding opponents to a .202 batting average and 13 walks against 44 strikeouts. Junior righthander Patrick Hogan (1-1, 1.86 ERA) will make his second start of the season and fourth start of his career in game two Saturday. Hogan earned the save against South Carolina Wednesday. In his only start of 2003, he shut down the Gamecocks at Columbia, SC in a career-high 7.2 innings of work on April 2. Junior righthander Steven Jackson (4-1, 3.83 ERA) will start on the mound in game three Sunday. Jackson has allowed just three earned runs in his last three starts (19.0 innings pitched) for a 1.42 ERA and 3-0 record. It will be the Summerville, SC native's second road start of the year. Clemson's pitching staff has a 3.55 ERA and .243 opponents' batting average.
Florida State Overview
Head Coach Mike Martin, who is in his 24th season as Florida State's head coach, coached his team at Jacksonville Wednesday in a game that was called in the fourth inning with Seminoles leading 8-1. Since five innings were not completed, the game does not count. Eddy Martinez-Esteve leads the team with a .358 batting average, while Chris Hart is second with a .347 average. Catcher Tony Richie, who had a big series at Clemson a year ago, has six homers and team-high 44 RBIs. Stephen Drew, high-school teammate of Tiger outfielder Zane Green, is hitting .331 with 26 stolen bases in 27 attempts. Florida State has 64 steals in 77 attempts and is hitting .302 as a team. The squad also sports a .961 fielding percentage, as it has committed 56 errors in 36 games. Closer Daniel Hodges has all of the team's seven saves and sports a 1.19 ERA in 22 relief appearances.
Clemson is coming off a 4-2 win over rival South Carolina Wednesday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, giving the Tigers a final 3-1 record in the regular-season series. Clemson is hitting .314 as a team, led by Russell Triplett's .372 batting average. Kyle Frank (.370), Brad McCann (.350), Zane Green (.349), and Michael Johnson (.333) also are having outstanding seasons at the plate. Johnson has 52 career homers, eight shy of breaking the Clemson career record (Jeff Baker, 59). Five of Johnson's six homers this year have come on the road as well. The Tigers are 4-6 on opponents' home field this year and have a .973 fielding percentage. Clemson has three players on its travel roster from the state of Florida. Freshman righthander Brett Murphy (Oviedo), senior second baseman David Slevin (Port Saint Lucie), and Roberto Valiente (Tampa) all call the Sunshine state home. The Tigers have also won 107 consecutive games when leading after eight innings dating back to the beginning of 2001.
Johnson Powers Clemson Over South Carolina
Michael Johnson's 10th career homer against South Carolina, a three-run bomb in the fifth inning, gave Clemson a 4-2 win over the Gamecocks April 9 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Johnson, who also hit his first homer of the season at home, also received the Bob Bradley Award, presented to the top Tiger in the four-game series with South Carolina. Zane Green, Brad McCann, and Kyle Frank contributed with two hits apiece to account for Clemson's seven hits. Freshman Jason Berken picked up the win by pitching 6.2 innings, allowing two runs and one walk while striking out seven. Columbia native Patrick Hogan earned his third save of the year by setting down the Gamecocks in the ninth inning.
Shutting the Door After Eight
In the last three seasons, Tiger pitchers have been perfect in shutting the door when Clemson has had the lead after eight innings. In fact, since the beginning of the 2001 season, Clemson is 107-0 when leading after eight innings, including a 35-0 record in 2001, 51-0 record in 2002, and 21-0 record in 2003. The last team who rallied in the ninth inning to down the Tigers was the last game of the 2000 season, when Louisiana-Lafayette scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 5-4. The game was on June 14 at the College World Series.
Fielding at a Record Rate
After setting the school record for fielding percentage (.971) a year ago, Clemson has continued its outstanding defensive prowess with a .973 fielding percentage in 2003. The Tigers have committed just 34 errors in the 31 games.
Going Against the Norm
It's standard practice by most coaches to bring in a lefthander to face a lefthanded batter in a pinch. But Clemson's four lefthanded batters (Herman Demmink, Kyle Frank, Zane Green, and Michael Johnson) have combined to hit .391 against lefties. Ironically, those four batters are hitting just .335 against righthanders this season.
Johnson Patient at the Plate
Michael Johnson entered this season as one of the most touted power hitters in the country. And thanks to that reputation, opposing pitchers have not given the Georgetown, SC native many pitches to hit. He has walked 34 times and been hit three times while totaling only 90 at bats this season. He is hitting .333, but has a .523 on-base percentage thanks to those 34 walks, five of which have been intentional. Of late, Brad McCann, who is hitting behind Johnson in the lineup, has made teams pay for walking Johnson, as he is 38-for-91 (.418) with 33 RBIs in his last 22 games.
Tigers Set to Battle FSU
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