BASEBALL: Clemson vs. Mercer Preview

Clemson (0-0), ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation, will open its 2008 schedule when it plays host to Mercer (0-0) this weekend in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

Game times are 4:00 PM (Friday), 2:00 PM (Saturday), and 1:00 PM (Sunday). All three games will be broadcast live on the radio by WCCP (104.9 FM) out of Clemson and can be heard live on the internet at

The Series Clemson and Mercer have met 32 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 17-14-1 lead in the series dating back to 1901. The two teams last played a weekend series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium from February 24-26, 2006, as the Tigers won two of the three games. Clemson won game-one 5-1, while Mercer won game-two 3-2. The Tigers responded with a 9-4 victory in the series-finale, which was the second game of a doubleheader.

Prior to the 2006 contests, the most-recent matchups came in 1978, as the Bears swept both seven-inning games of a doubleheader at Macon, GA on April 4. In 1977, Clemson won both meetings at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The first 21 games in the series were played between 1901 and 1928.

The Tigers lead 7-1 in games at Clemson and 6-1 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Tiger Head Coach Jack Leggett is 2-1 against the Bears as well.

The Starting Pitchers In game-one, Mercer will start senior righthander Boone Webster on the mound. The Alpharetta, GA native had a 7-5 record and 4.15 ERA in 14 starts and five relief appearances over 86.2 innings pitched in 2007. He also struck out 56 against 41 walks.

The Tigers will counter with junior lefthander Ryan Hinson on Friday. The Rock Hill, SC native had a 6-2 record and 2.74 ERA in 14 starts and five relief appearances over 82.0 innings pitched in 2007. He struck out 60 against 39 walks as well.

In game-two, the Bears will send out senior righty Justin Boyette on the mound. The Pensacola, FL native had a 4-4 record and 4.84 ERA in 12 starts and three relief appearances over 70.2 innings pitched in 2007. He allowed just 14 walks, less than 1.8 per nine innings pitched, and struck out 54 batters.

The Tigers will counter with junior righthander D.J. Mitchell on Saturday. The Rural Hall, NC native had a 5-0 record and 3.27 ERA in seven starts and eight relief appearances over 52.1 innings pitched in 2007. He also struck out 49 against only 16 walks.

In game-three, Mercer will start junior righty John Hoelzer on the mound. The Wellington, FL native pitched last season at Palm Beach Community College.

Clemson will counter with freshman righty Graham Stoneburner on Sunday. The Richmond, VA native red-shirted a season ago after suffering a torn ACL during the preseason. He will be making his first appearance as a Tiger.

The Bears
Mercer is led by fifth-year Head Coach Craig Gibson and has yet to play a game in 2008. The Bears are coming off a 33-25 season, which included a 17-10 mark (second place) in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They also return seven starters in the field and their top-two starting pitchers each amassed over 70 innings pitched on the mound in 2007.

Senior shortstop Billy Shaughnessy returns after leading the 2007 team with a .333 batting average. Senior first-baseman Mike Armstrong batted .316 with five homers and 39 RBIs as well.

The Tigers
Clemson enters the season-opening series against Mercer ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. The Tigers are coming off a 41-23 season in 2007 when they played in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st consecutive season, the third-longest streak in NCAA history. Clemson's probable starting lineup in the field features only one player who ended the 2007 season at the same position (Doug Hogan at catcher). Several other Tiger starters return, but they are slated to start at different positions against Mercer.

Three Tigers hail from the state of Georgia, including lefthander William Bond (Lawrenceville), outfielder Chris Epps (Stone Mountain), and first-baseman Ben Paulsen (Acworth).

Tigers Picked Second in ACC Atlantic
Clemson was picked to finish second in the ACC Atlantic Division by the 12 league coaches in the preseason. The Tigers received four first-place votes to win the ACC Atlantic Division, just behind Florida State's seven first-place votes.

Behind Florida State and Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division were N.C. State, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Maryland.

North Carolina was picked to win the ACC Coastal Division title. Miami (FL), Virginia, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Duke rounded out the ACC Coastal Division preseason picks. The Tar Heels were picked to win the ACC overall title with seven first-place votes.

Hogan Riding 15-Game Hitting Streak
Senior catcher Doug Hogan (Columbia, SC) ended the 2007 season on a 15-game hitting streak and carries that over into 2008. During the streak, he is 26-for-62 (.419) with seven doubles, a triple, four homers, and 17 RBIs. Hogan, one of three team captains, is one of only two seniors on the 2008 squad.

Widmann Streaking on the Basepaths
Junior shortstop Stan Widmann (Hurst, TX) has overcome a serious neck injury that forced him to miss all but six games in 2007. He is healthy for 2008 and should be back to his early 2007 form when he was 9-for-22 (.409) with three stolen bases.

Those three steals added to an impressive streak. Widmann has successfully stolen 25 bases in a row after being caught stealing on his first career stolen-base attempt as a freshman at Auburn on March 5, 2005. Widmann was 7-8 on steals in 2005, 15-15 in 2006, and 3-3 in 2007.

The fact that he can return at all is a testament to the outstanding physical condition Widmann was in when he suffered the injury. He was forced to wear a halo for months. Head Coach Jack Leggett can relate, as he also suffered a serious neck injury and had to wear a halo after a skiing accident in 1999.

Preseason Honors
Several Tigers received accolades in the preseason, including nine players by Baseball America. Doug Hogan is on the watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, and he also is a preseason third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Hogan was tabbed as the #17 senior in the nation by Baseball America. Juniors D.J. Mitchell (#45) and Ryan Hinson (#47) were among the top 50 in their class, while Addison Johnson was listed as the #25 sophomore in the country. Four Tiger freshmen were listed among the top-50 in their class, including Graham Stoneburner (#14), Josh Thrailkill (#27) (he is listed as a red-shirt freshman by Baseball America but is actually a sophomore), Jeff Schaus (#42), and Trent Rothlin (#46).

Mitchell (#47) and Hinson (#49) were also listed among the top-100 college prospects in the preseason. Mitchell was listed as the #9 ACC prospect for the 2008 draft, while Hinson was listed #10. Johnson was listed as the #3 ACC prospect for the 2009 draft as well. Top Stories