Tigers Eye ACC Championship

Clemson (40-13, 21-6 ACC), ranked as high as No. 3 in the country, will play host to No. 22 Wake Forest (33-17, 16-10 ACC) in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium beginning Thursday.

The games will be the last for both the Tigers and Demon Deacons during the 2006 regular season, as both have clinched spots in the ACC Tournament. Game times are 7:15 PM (Thursday), 7:15 PM (Friday), and 1:00 PM (Saturday). All three games will be broadcast live on the radio by Clemson Tiger Sports Network.

The Series
Clemson and Wake Forest have met 152 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 108-43-1 lead in the series dating back to the 1901 season. Last year at Winston-Salem, Clemson swept the Demon Deacons by a combined score of 27-20 in three close games.

Two years ago at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, the Tigers also swept Wake Forest by a combined score of 26-15. Clemson has won 12 games in a row in the series since Wake Forest's 4-2 win at Clemson in 2002, and five games in a row at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The Tigers hold a 53-18-1 advantage over Wake Forest all-time in games played at Clemson and are 41-7 in games played at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers also hold a 92-32-1 lead in ACC regular-season games.

Tiger Head Coach Jack Leggett is 29-11 against the Demon Deacons as Clemson's head coach, including a 14-4 mark at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Leggett was also 1-1 against the Demon Deacons as the head coach at Western Carolina, meaning he has a 30-12 all-time record against Wake Forest.

The Starting Pitchers
In game one, Wake Forest will start freshman righthander Brad Kledzik (5-3, 3.88 ERA) on the mound. The Fairfax Station, VA native has made 12 starts and two relief appearances for a total of 69.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 87 hits, 28 walks, and no home runs with 52 strikeouts.

The Tigers will counter with junior righthander Stephen Faris (7-2, 2.52 ERA) on Thursday. The Richmond, VA native had made 13 starts for a total of 71.1 innings pitched. He has a .213 opponents' batting average, allowing 54 hits and 14 walks with 59 strikeouts.

In game two, the Demon Deacons will send out sophomore lefthander Eric Niesen (3-0, 4.12 ERA) on the mound. The New Boston, MI native has made seven starts and 13 relief appearances for a total of 48.0 innings pitched. He has yielded 37 hits (.203 opponents' batting average) and 30 walks with 41 strikeouts.

The Tigers will counter with graduate righty Josh Cribb (8-0, 2.89 ERA) on Friday. The Lake View, SC native has made 12 starts and one relief appearance for a total of 71.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 54 hits (.213 opponents' batting average) and 21 walks with 71 strikeouts.

In game three, Wake Forest will start senior righthander Justin Keadle (5-2, 4.30 ERA) on the mound. The Huntington Beach, CA native has made 10 starts for a total of 44.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 43 hits and 17 walks with 42 strikeouts.

Clemson will counter with junior righthander Jason Berken (8-3, 2.77 ERA) on Saturday. The De Pere, WI native has made 13 starts for a total of 68.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 67 hits and 29 walks with 64 strikeouts.

The Demon Deacons
Wake Forest, led by second-year Head Coach Rick Rembielak, enters the series with a 33-17 overall record and 16-10 ACC mark after losing two of three games at #17 Miami (FL) last weekend. Wake Forest is in second place in the Atlantic Division standings, a game ahead of N.C. State (15-11) and two games ahead of Florida State (14-12). The team, who is 12-11 on the road, is 10-10 in its last 20 games after starting the season 23-7.

The Demon Deacons are hitting .279 as a team with a .380 on-base percentage and 60 stolen bases in 75 attempts. They have a high on-base percentage thanks to 225 walks and 75 hit-by-pitches, meaning they are averaging 6.0 "free passes" per game. They also have 98 doubles and 50 home runs in 50 games.

Brendan Enick is hitting a team-best .338, while Matt Antonelli is hitting .335 with 17 doubles, 11 homers, 36 RBIs, a .446 on-base percentage, and 15 stolen bases. Allan Dykstra, a candidate for national freshman-of-the-year, is hitting .333 with 16 doubles, 14 homers, 55 RBIs, and a .492 on-base percentage thanks to 51 walks.

Wake Forest has a 4.08 ERA and .265 opponents' batting average. The staff also has 363 strikeouts, but has issued 211 walks in 452.1 innings pitched. Reliever Kyle Young has a 2.55 ERA in 26 appearances.

Sophomore closer Ben Hunter, a transfer from Furman, has a 1.41 ERA and 14 saves in 31 relief appearances (51.0 innings pitched). Hunter also has a .192 opponents' batting average and 64 strikeouts against 17 walks. Wake Forest sports a .964 fielding percentage as well.

The Tigers
Clemson enters the series with a 40-13 overall record and 21-6 mark in the ACC. In the Tigers' last game, P.J. Zocchi pitched 8.2 scoreless innings to lead Clemson to a 1-0 victory over #21 College of Charleston on Tuesday night. Clemson, who is 28-5 at home, has won 12 games in a row overall and 10 in a row in ACC play.

The team is hitting .298 with a .370 on-base percentage and 71 stolen bases in 89 attempts. Clemson also has 109 doubles, 14 triples, and 59 home runs along with 43 sacrifice bunts in 53 games. The Tigers sport a .969 fielding percentage as well.

Tyler Colvin is riding a 12-game hitting streak. All nine Tiger regulars in the field are hitting between .282 and .330. Chalk leads the team at .330 with a school-record 18 sacrifice bunts, while Andy D'Alessio, a reigning national player-of-the-week by Collegiate Baseball, is hitting .327 with 18 homers and 68 RBIs.

The pitching staff has a 3.17 ERA and .242 opponents' batting average. Lefty Daniel Moskos has nine of the team's 15 saves. In Clemson's last 14 games (13-1 record), Tiger relievers have combined for 45.0 innings pitched, allowing 24 hits (.159 opponents' batting average), one earned run (0.20 ERA), and 12 walks with 47 strikeouts.

ACC Standings
Clemson has clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title with a 21-6 mark, meaning it will be at least the #2 seed in the ACC Tournament, but the Tigers are still in a fight for the #1 seed. North Carolina (19-8), who is two games behind Clemson, leads the Coastal Division, while Virginia (18-9) is a game behind the Tar Heels. Clemson must win two games against Wake Forest to clinch the #1 seed.

If the Tigers and Tar Heels end the regular season in a tie in the ACC standings, then ACC rules state that head-to-head results determine the higher seed among division winners.

However, since Clemson and North Carolina do not play in the 2006 regular season, the next tiebreaker would be each team's record against the team next in the standings. If two or more teams are tied behind the two tied teams at the top, then the records against the group of teams is used.

Virginia is also still alive for the #1 seed, however Wake Forest must sweep Clemson, Virginia must sweep Virginia Tech, and North Carolina must not sweep Boston College for the Cavaliers to earn the #1 seed (assuming all series go three games and none are rained out). Seeds 1,4,5,8 are in one bracket, and seeds 2,3,6,7 are in the other bracket for the 2006 ACC Tournament, which will be played at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (FL) from May 24-28.

Future ACC Tournament Sites
On May 17, the Atlantic Coast Conference released the future sites for ACC Tournaments from 2007-09. The 2007 and 2008 tournaments will be played at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (FL), where the tourney was played in 2005 and will be held again in 2006. In 2009, the ACC Tournament will be held in Boston, MA at historic Fenway Park.

12-Game Winning Streak
Since suffering a narrow 3-2 loss at Boston College in the first game of a doubleheader on April 22, Clemson has reeled off 12 wins in a row to improve to 39-13 on the season. The streak is tied for the longest current streak in the nation, as Georgia has also won 12 games in a row.

In the last 12 games, Clemson is hitting .340 as a team. Eight of the nine regulars in the field are hitting .333 or better. The team has outscored its opponents 97-23 and totaled 20 homers, while its opponents have a .199 batting average and just one homer. Taylor Harbin is hitting .442, while Marquez Smith is hitting .422 with seven doubles, six homers, and 18 RBIs in the last 12 games. The pitching staff has a 1.65 ERA in the last 12 games as well.

Sunshine Streak
When Clemson finished off a three-game sweep of Florida State with an 11-2 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on May 14, it gave Clemson a three-game series sweep of both Florida State and Miami (FL) during the 2006 season. From March 31 to April 2, Clemson won three straight over the Hurricanes in Coral Gables.

Clemson is just the second school in history and the first since 1948 to sweep (three games or more) Florida State and Miami in the same year. That year, Rollins won four straight from Florida State and four in a row from Miami. Both series were a pair of two-game, home-and-home series. It was the first year of Florida State's baseball program and just the fourth year of baseball for Miami.

Clemson has now swept Miami each of the last two years and has seven consecutive wins over the Hurricanes. Clemson is the first school in history to record a three-game sweep of the Hurricanes in consecutive years. Florida State came close in 2002 and 2003. The Seminoles recorded a sweep in Coral Gables in 2002, then won the first two games in Coral Gables in 2003 before the two teams tied in the last game of the series.

Clemson's seven-game win streak against Miami is the longest for any program against the Hurricanes since Florida State won seven straight in their series with Miami between 1990-91. The record for consecutive wins by a program over Miami is 12 by Florida State from 1966-71. That is also the last time someone beat them eight straight games. That streak began when current Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin was a player for the Seminoles.

Over the last two years, Clemson has won 11 consecutive games against teams from the state of Florida dating to a 7-3 April 3, 2005 victory (second game of doubleheader) at Florida State.

Zocchi Ball
Sophomore righthander P.J. Zocchi (Bronx, NY) started both of Clemson's games against College of Charleston in 2006. His results were near perfect. He earned victories in both games. In the first start in Mount Pleasant on March 3, he allowed just five hits, no runs, and two walks with four strikeouts in Clemson's 6-0 win. Then at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on May 16, he pitched 8.2 innings, allowing only five hits, no runs, and one walk with eight strikeouts. Therefore in two starts against the Cougars, he was 2-0 in 14.2 innings pitched, and allowed 10 hits, no runs, and three walks with 12 strikeouts.

On the season, his ERA has dipped to 3.06 along with a 5-0 record as a primary midweek starter. He also has 54 strikeouts in 50.0 innings pitched. In his last three appearances, which includes one start, he has pitched 13.0 innings, allowing seven hits, no runs, and three walks with 14 strikeouts along with a 2-0 record.

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