After losing four games in a row, which included a sweep in the conference opening series with North Carolina, Clemson's record dropped to 6-8.
Now, the Tigers are 11-8 [3-3 ACC play] as they head to Charlottesville.
"We feel more confident, obviously, than we did a week and a half ago,"
said Clemson coach Jack Leggett. "We're playing a little bit better
baseball. We've still got some holes, offensively, that we've got to plug
For the next three days, runs from both the Cavaliers and Tigers could be
at a premium.
Virginia first baseman Jared King is first among every day starters
with a .387 batting average, 23 RBI, a .510 on-base percentage eight
stolen bases. Three other Cavalier regulars are batting over .300.
"They play a pretty sharp offensive game -- hit and run, bunt, move
runners over," Leggett said. "We've got to pitch really well, play really
good defense, we can't give them any extra outs."
Three Clemson regulars are hitting over .300 while the team batting
average is .274.
The Virginia pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.43 with a .251 opponents'
batting average. Senior right-hander Justin Thompson has both of
the team's saves, plus a 2-0 record with a 0.82 ERA in 11 relief
Clemson right-hander Kevin Brady, who's 1-1 with 2.89 ERA, will
start on Friday. Righty Dominic Leone [3-1, 5.09 ERA] will get the
nod on Saturday. Right-hander Kevin Pohle is due up again on
Sunday. He's 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA.
"Pitching is definitely going to be important," said Clemson outfielder
Brad Felder. "Hopefully, we can get some more offensive production
going at the plate this weekend. The bullpen's been strong. If we can get
something going at the plate, I think we'll be all right."
Led by ninth-year coach Brian O'Connor, Virginia enters the series
at 12-8-1 [2-4 ACC]. After being swept last weekend by Florida State,
Virginia bounced back with a 12-3 mid-week win over VMI.
"I watched a couple of Virginia games against Florida State on TV. They've
lost a couple of close ones, just like we have," Felder said. "They're not
a bad team at all. Their record doesn't show how good they are. [It's] the
same as us. I think we're a lot better team than our record shows. We've
lost a bunch of one-run games. Hopefully, we can just go up there and
compete, come out on top."
The series opens at 6 p.m. on Friday night. Both weekend games are
scheduled for 1 p.m.
"It's always tough to play up there. They're a good ball club. They're
well-coached. They always have good pitching, so it will be a really good
challenge for us," Leggett said.
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