Tigers Open 2009 Season

Clemson (0-0), ranked as high as No. 19 in the nation, will open its 2009 schedule when it plays host to Charlotte (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 WCCPFM.com.

The Series
Clemson and Charlotte have met 10 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding an 8-2 lead in the series dating back to 1985. The two teams last played a game at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on February 24, 2004, as the 49ers defeated the Tigers 5-4. The two teams also faced each other in 2000 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, as Clemson was victorious 14-2. That was the last of eight straight wins in the series since Charlotte won the first-ever meeting in 1985.

The Tigers lead 5-2 in games at Clemson and Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Tiger Head Coach Jack Leggett is 2-1 against the 49ers as well.

The Starting Pitchers
In game-one, Charlotte will start sophomore righthander Joe Yermal. The Bel Air, MD native had an 8-2 record and 4.39 ERA in 16 appearances (14 starts) for a total of 84.0 innings pitched. He allowed 87 hits (.268 opponents' batting average) and 20 walks with 44 strikeouts. The Tigers will counter with senior righthander Trey Delk on Friday. The Elgin, SC native had a 2-1 record and 4.01 ERA in 14 appearances (five starts) for a total of 42.2 innings pitched in 2008. He allowed 46 hits (.271 opponents' batting average) and 15 walks with 34 strikeouts. In game-two, the 49ers will send out sophomore righthander Andrew Smith. The Matthews, NC native had a 4-2 record and 5.91 ERA in 18 appearances (seven starts) for a total of 53.1 innings pitched. He yielded 73 hits (.335 opponents' batting average), 28 walks, and just two home runs with 39 strikeouts.

Clemson will counter with freshman lefthander Chris Dwyer on Saturday. The Swampscott, MA native will be making his first appearance as a Tiger after being selected in the 36th round by the Yankees in the 2008 draft.

In game-three, Charlotte will start freshman lefthander Tyler Pilkington. The Waxhaw, NC native will be making his first career appearance on the mound.

The Tigers will counter with sophomore righthander Graham Stoneburner on Sunday. The Richmond, VA native had a 6-5 record and 5.55 ERA in 16 appearances (14 starts) for a total of 71.1 innings pitched in 2008. He gave up 78 hits (.281 opponents' batting average) and 21 walks with 52 strikeouts.

The 49ers
Charlotte, led by 17th-year Head Coach Loren Hibbs, has yet to play a game in 2009. The 49ers are coming off a 43-16 season, which included a first-place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 19-8 record. They also played in the Columbia (SC) Regional. In the last three seasons, Charlotte is fourth in the nation in winning percentage as well.

Charlotte returns 19 lettermen and six position starters along with nine of its 13 pitchers. Corey Shaylor (.366) is the 49ers' top returning hitter. Rob Lyerly, who hit .364 with 26 doubles, 15 homers, and 76 RBIs in 2008, also returns. Both Shaylor and Lyerly are on the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. The award is presented each year to the nation's best player.

The Tigers
Clemson enters the season-opening series against Charlotte ranked as high as #19 in the nation by Baseball America. Clemson is also ranked #25 in the Sports Weekly poll. The Tigers are coming off a 31-27-1 season in 2008 when they failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1986.

The Tigers return eight position starters in 2009, however, many newcomers are expected to see playing time in the season-opening series. Among the top returnees are First-Team All-ACC player Kyle Parker, who hit .303 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs as a freshman in 2008. Mike Freeman (.332) led the team in batting average, while Ben Paulsen hit .310 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs.

Addison Johnson will return after missing the entire 2008 season due to injury. Johnson was the starting centerfielder as a freshman in 2007 and was one of the team's hottest hitters in the postseason.

Five Tigers hail from the state of North Carolina, Wilson Boyd (Hickory), John Hinson (Asheville), Johnson (Pfafftown), Matt Sanders (New Bern), and Josh Thrailkill (Arden).

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 eight 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. Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), Virginia, Duke, and Virginia Tech rounded out the ACC Coastal Division preseason picks. The Tar Heels were picked to win the ACC overall title with 10 first-place votes.

Polls
Clemson enters 2009 ranked #19 in the preseason Baseball America poll and #25 in the preseason Sports Weekly poll. Clemson is not ranked in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll. Clemson has had at least one final top-25 ranking in 12 of Head Coach Jack Leggett's first 15 seasons in Tigertown. The Tigers have also been ranked #1 for 20 weeks by at least one of the three major polls under Leggett.

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