Tigers Begin Critical Early Season Stretch

Clemson (5-1), ranked as high as #1 in the nation, will travel to the coast of South Carolina to play at College of Charleston (7-2) on Friday at 5:00 PM at Patriots Point Field. It will be the Tigers' first road contest of the season.

The game will be broadcast live on the radio by WCCP (104.9 FM) out of Clemson.

Clemson will then travel directly to Columbia to take on #9 South Carolina at Sarge Frye Field on Saturday at 1:30 PM. The two teams will play the second of four games during the regular season on Sunday at 2:00 PM at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Both weekend games will be broadcast live on the radio by Clemson Tiger Sports Network. Live stats will also be available at ClemsonTigers.com for all three games.

The Series
Clemson and College of Charleston have met 15 times on the diamond. The Tigers have won all 15 games, including two wins at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in 2005. The latter was a 6-0 victory over the #22 Cougars in the Clemson Regional on June 4 when Josh Cribb held the nation's best hitting team to only two hits in a complete-game shutout. Clemson also defeated #20 College of Charleston 8-5 on May 17, 2005.

In the Tigers' last trip to College of Charleston, Clemson came away with a 15-4 victory in 2004. The Tigers, who downed College of Charleston at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in 2004 by a score of 19-8, have also registered wins over the Cougars in 2003 (2), 2002 (2), and 2001 (1). Before the game in 2001, the two teams had not played each other since 1912.

The Tigers lead 5-0 in games played at College of Charleston. Head Coach Jack Leggett is 9-0 against the Cougars as well.

The Cougars
College of Charleston, led by seventh-year Head Coach John Pawlowski, enters the game Friday with a 7-2 overall record after winning all three games of a tournament it hosted over the weekend, including a 7-6 victory in 17 innings over Virginia on Sunday.

Pawlowski lettered at Clemson three times (1983-85) and went on to play two years (1987,88) in the Major Leagues with the Chicago White Sox. He later went on to be Clemson's pitching coach from 1994-98, coaching the likes of Kris Benson, Billy Koch, and Ken Vining. Another member of the Cougar squad has ties to the Tiger program. Jess Easterling, who played in Tigertown in 2003 after red-shirting in 2002, is hitting .324 with a homer and 12 RBIs in nine games.

The Cougars are hitting .351 as a team with a .419 on-base percentage and have stolen 24 bases in 31 attempts. They also are averaging 9.3 runs per game and have totaled 30 doubles, or 3.3 per game. Phillip Coker is hitting .439 with seven steals, both team-bests. Catcher Alex Garabedian, a transfer from Miami (FL), is hitting .421 with a homer and 11 RBIs, while Larry Cobb has a team-high 14 RBIs along with a .361 batting average. Joey Friddle, who transferred from South Carolina, is hitting .385 with nine RBIs.

College of Charleston, which is 6-0 at home this year, has a 2.59 team ERA and a .212 opponents' batting average. Righthander Josh McLaughlin, a transfer from Georgia, is the top hurler out of the bullpen. The Wichita, KS native has allowed just five hits, no earned runs, and six walks with 11 strikeouts in 11.1 innings pitched over four relief appearances. The team is fielding at a .958 clip as well.

The Tigers
Clemson, ranked as high as #1 in the nation by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, enters the game at College of Charleston with a 5-1 record after winning two of three games against Mercer last weekend. The Tigers also swept James Madison in a three-game series from February 17-19. Friday's game will be Clemson's first on the road in 2006.

The Tigers are hitting .277 as a team with a .373 on-base percentage. The team has also hit 23 extra base hits and has a solid .983 fielding percentage after committing only four errors in six games. Clemson has outscored its opponents 31-4 in the first seven innings through six games as well.

Tyler Colvin is hitting a team-best .450 with four homers and six RBIs. Herman Demmink is also hitting .364, while Marquez Smith has five RBIs.

The pitching staff has a 0.83 ERA and .183 opponents' batting average. The staff has also allowed just four extra-base hits and 17 walks against 51 strikeouts, good for a 3.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Junior righthander Steve Richard has the team's lone save.

USC Game Tickets Available on Gameday
Reserved seats for the Sunday, March 5 game against South Carolina at Doug Kingsmore Stadium are no longer available. General admission standing room tickets for that game will be available beginning at 12:00 PM on Sunday at the left-field ticket gate of Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The ticket prices are $10 for adults and $8 for youths (high school age and under). First pitch for the game between the #1 Tigers and #9 Gamecocks on March 5 is scheduled for 2:00 PM.

Worth Noting
* Clemson has yet to play a game on Saturday, as both previous weekend series saw the Saturday games rained out.

Clemson was in the #1 spot in the Baseball America poll on Monday for the fourth-straight week. The Tigers also moved up to #1 in the Collegiate Baseball poll for the first time this year. In Sports Weekly's first poll since the preseason on February 27, Clemson was ranked #3.

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 19th week Clemson has been ranked #1 by at least one of the major polls in Head Coach Jack Leggett's 13th season at Clemson.

If the early-season attendance figures at Doug Kingsmore Stadium (capacity of 5,617) continue, Clemson will easily eclipse the school record for average attendance for a season. Already through four home dates, Clemson is averaging 4,768 fans per date. The single-season school record is 4,049 fans per date, set in 2005. The numbers should only improve as the weather warms and the Tigers move into their conference schedule.

How Low Can You Go?
Pitching Coach Kevin O'Sullivan's staff has an 0.83 ERA through six games, allowing only five earned runs in 54.0 innings pitched. The team has also yielded a .183 opponents' batting average. The ERA figure easily leads the ACC.

The weekend rotation of Jason Berken, Stephen Faris, and Josh Cribb have also been solid. The three have combined to allow just 19 hits (18 singles, one double), two earned runs, and five walks with 32 strikeouts. That translates into an 0.57 ERA and 5-0 record among the three. It does not hurt that the three veterans have combined for 13 years in the Tiger program as well.

Fielding on Record Pace, Again
The five-highest team fielding percentages by a Tiger team have occurred in the last six years, including the record of .971 in 2002. Last season, Clemson fielded at a .968 clip. The high percentages are a testament to the countless hours Head Coach Jack Leggett and the players spend on fielding, whether during practice or on the players' own time. This season is no different. Clemson has committed just four errors in six games, good for a .983 fielding percentage.

Harbin Hampered By Hamstring Strain
Taylor 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. He also missed all three games of the Mercer series from February 24-26. His status for this weekend is listed as probable.

Chalk's Bunting Game
Sophomore centerfielder Brad Chalk (Greer, SC) plays "small ball" as good as any Tiger in recent history. Not only is he a prototypical slap-hitter, he is a great bunter, whether it be in a sacrifice situation for for a base hit. As a freshman in 2005, he set the school record with 15 sacrifice bunts. Chalk was a big reason Clemson shattered the school record for sacrifice bunts in a season with 62. He also had a team-high 10 bunt singles.

This season, he already has three sacrifice bunts and two bunt singles. That gives him 18 career sacrifice bunts. The Tiger career record in that category is 25 set by Casey Stone from 1998-01. Overall, Chalk is hitting .333 with a .409 on-base percentage in 2006 from his #2 spot in the batting order. His defense is also a plus, as Baseball America said in the preseason that he has the ACC's best outfield arm.

Tigers Take Two From Upstart Mercer
Clemson, ranked #1 in the nation, won two of three games over a solid Mercer team from February 24-26 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers hit .269 in the series, while Mercer hit .250. Clemson also outscored the Bears 16-8 and hit 10 doubles. The Tiger pitching staff had a 1.33 ERA and did not allow a home run.

Tyler Colvin was 6-for-11 (.545) with five runs scored, two doubles, a homer, and three RBIs in the series, while he hit two more line-drive outs to the deep part of the outfield that were tracked down by Bear outfielders making nice catches.

In game one on February 24, Clemson stranded 10 Mercer baserunners in a 5-1 victory. The Tigers also turned three double plays and worked out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the sixth inning without allowing a run. Colvin hit a solo home run, while Travis Storrer and Marquez Smith each had two-run doubles. Jason Berken earned the win in a starting role by pitching 4.0 shutout innings. Daniel Moskos also pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in relief to maintain the Tigers' narrow lead. The Bears' lone run came on a sacrifice fly by Sean McCahill in the ninth inning.

In game two, which was the first game of a doubleheader on February 26, Mercer scored three unearned runs in the eighth inning for a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Tigers, breaking Clemson's 11-game home winning streak. Jason Lowey tied the score with a run-scoring single, then he along with Tyler McCarty scored on Steve Karwatt's two-run single. The runs were scored after a throwing error by Stan Widmann. Clemson cut the Bear lead in half in the bottom of the eighth inning, but closer Andrew Urena struck out Ben Hall with the bases loaded to end the threat. Colvin had three of Clemson's four hits, as the Tigers were 1-for-11 with two outs. Mercer had 11 hits, including 10 singles.

In game three, which was the second game of a doubleheader on February 26, Clemson broke out with 14 hits, including seven doubles, in a 9-4 victory. After Mercer took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Clemson responded with three runs in the bottom of the first, highlighted by Andy D'Alessio's two-run double, one of his two two-baggers in the game.

D'Alessio also was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. The Tigers broke the game open with four runs in the fifth inning, keyed by four doubles. Freshman Alex Burg had his first two hits as a Tiger, including a run-scoring double in the fifth inning. The Tigers were also 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Josh Cribb allowed two earned runs on five hits and took the win.

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