Top Ranked Tigers Head to Columbia

CLEMSON – To date, the Clemson pitching staff has been downright filthy. In seven games, the Tigers have allowed five earned runs, which equates to a 0.71 ERA. But that number will surely get tested as they prepare to take on in-state rival South Carolina in a two-game series this weekend.

The Gamecocks enter Saturday's game in Columbia ranked as high as eight in some polls and have displayed a very potent offense, which will no doubt make the Clemson pitching staff work for every out.

Starting for the Tigers Saturday is ace Jason Berken, who has been nothing less than stellar in his two appearances. Berken, a junior, hasn't allowed a run in nine innings of work and has a 2-0 record with 12 strikeouts.

"I've pitched pretty well," he said. "The key is I've been hitting my spots. I'd rather throw 88 miles per hour and hit the black instead of throwing 94 miles per hour and throw it down the middle."

Taking the hill for Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Sunday is junior Stephen Farris, who also has a 0.00 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched. He is 1-0 and has struck out 11 hitters.

"It's always a big game when we meet," Farris said. "I just want to go out there and pitch my game and try and help my team win."

Helping Clemson's cause this weekend is the return of second baseman Taylor Harbin, who sustained a hamstring pull a few weeks ago. Harbin said he is about "95 percent."

"I'm feeling good," he said. "The biggest thing I'm worried about his my timing at the plate. But hopefully I'll get it back Friday night and be ready to go against South Carolina."

With the return of Harbin to the lineup, Tigers coach Jack Leggett said Marquez Smith will return to the designated hitter spot.

Another key member of the offense is outfielder Tyler Colvin, who had belted four home runs and had six RBI, while hitting a team-high .450 entering the team's game against College of Charleston Friday night.

"I got a lot stronger during the off-season and I changed my stance a little bit," Colvin said. "Let's face it, at the end of last year, I was struggling big time. So, when the season was over, I worked on my strength and swing."

Even if Clemson pleases its fans by sweeping the Gamecocks, Leggett said it still won't be a true measuring stick of just how good his club is.

"I think the true barometer will be in the middle of the season," he said. "I think that's when we'll have a better idea what kind of team we are." Top Stories