Tigers Ready to Tangle with Tar Heels

OMAHA, Neb. – The match up that fans have been clamoring for all season is upon us. Clemson and North Carolina will finally meet this season, and it comes in the most important part of the season – the College World Series.

All season, the Tar Heels (51-13) and Clemson (53-14) have been the top two teams in the ACC and two of the best in the entire country. Both have spent time with the number one ranking.

After the disappoint of the two not meeting in the ACC Tournament, due to North Carolina going 0-2, the heavyweight bout gets underway Sunday at 7 p.m.

"We've had to travel a long ways (to play the game)," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "We could have done this a long time ago and only four or five hours away. I knew it was going to come down to this at some point where we'd have an opportunity to play them. It happens to be on the national stage."

The Tigers will send Stephen Faris (9-2, 2.37 ERA) to the mound to square off against the hot bats of North Carolina.

"He's been one of our top three starters and it's more of he's ready to go and we though he gives us the best chance to win the ballgame," said Clemson pitching coach Kevin O'Sullivan.

Faris said he's eagerly anticipating the challenge of the Tar Heels, which boasts a .323 batting average.

"I'm looking forward to it, I really am," he said. "Hopefully I can jumpstart the whole team and get it going."

Faris said he's not worried about not having faced them this year.

"It's not like we haven't played them the last few years," he said. "We know their guys and they know what we've got. We haven't played each other, but everybody knows what everybody has."

North Carolina is expected to start right-handed junior Robert Woodard (6-1, 3.48 ERA) instead of its other first-round draft pick, Daniel Bard.

Woodard throws in the high 80s and has good movement on his fastball. His changeup is his other best pitch and he'll throw it to anybody, especially early in the count.

He has excellent control (only 19 walks), but he has been beat around lately. He's only lasted past the fifth inning once in his last three starts and has given up 11 runs in 13.2 innings.

And even though he hasn't won since May 13, and leads the team in home runs and doubles allowed, he has a 22-3 career record.

In his three previous appearances against Clemson, Woodard has one start with a 0-0 record. He's given up five earned runs on 10 hits and four walks in nine innings. He's also has 10 strikeouts.

"We're just going to have to make sure that we lay off the off-speed early in the count and make sure it's a strike," said Clemson hitting coach Tom Riginos. "If you start chasing that changeup and start facing that breaking ball, he's going to have a very good outing.

"But if we do a very good job getting that fastball when we get in fastball counts and laying off that off-speed early in the count, we're going to be in good shape."

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