Tigers, Spartans to tangle

Clemson (6-4), ranked as high as No. 22 in the nation, will play Michigan State (1-9) twice this week.

The two will play at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Tuesday at 4:00 PM, then they will meet at Fluor Field in Greenville, SC on Wednesday at 7:00 PM. Both 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 Michigan State have met 13 times on the diamond, with the Spartans holding a 9-3-1 lead dating back to the 1935 season. All 13 previous meetings have taken place at Clemson. Jack Leggett has never faced Michigan State on the diamond.

The two teams last met in 1958, when they played twice 10 days apart. Clemson won the first meeting by a score of 7-5 in seven innings on March 24 in the season-opener. That was Bill Wilhelm's first game as head coach at Clemson. Wilhelm went on to win 1,161 games in 36 seasons (1958-93) at Clemson. The Spartans topped the Tigers in the second and final meeting of the year on April 3 by a score of 3-2. That was Wilhelm's first loss at Clemson as well. Therefore, Wilhelms' first-ever win and first-ever loss both came against the Spartans.

The Starting Pitchers
Michigan State will start sophomore righthander Kurt Wunderlich (0-1, 9.00 ERA) on the mound. The Des Peres, MO native has made three relief appearances for a total of 3.0 innings pitched. He has allowed five hits (.385 opponents' batting average), all singles, and no walks with three strikeouts. Tuesday's outing will mark his first career start.

Clemson will counter with junior righthander Justin Sarratt (1-0, 6.23 ERA) on Tuesday. The Gaffney, SC native has made three relief appearances for a total of 4.1 innings pitched. He has yielded six hits (.333 opponents' batting average) and one walk with two strikeouts.

The Spartans
Michigan State, led by first-year Head Coach Jake Boss, Jr., enters the series against Clemson with a 1-9 record and has lost nine games in a row after opening the season with a 4-2 win over Connecticut. The Spartans, who have not lost a game by more than five runs all season, have yet to play a home game and will not do so until March 20. Michigan State sports an 0-5 record on opponents' home fields as well. Michigan State is averaging 3.9 runs per game and hitting .232 with a .326 slugging percentage and .305 on-base percentage. The team has also totaled 11 doubles, one triple, six home runs, and 18 stolen bases in 26 attempts.

Chris Roberts is hitting a team-best .317, while Eli Boike is batting .313 with three homers, four RBIs, and five steals. Brandon Eckerle is also hitting .297 with five stolen bases. The pitching staff has a 4.86 ERA and .288 opponents' batting average along with 46 strikeouts against 44 walks in 83.1 innings pitched. Junior righthander Kurtis Frymier has the team's lone save. The Spartans are fielding at a .950 clip as well.

The Tigers
Clemson, ranked as high as No. 22 in the nation, enters the series against Michigan State with a 6-4 overall record and 1-2 ACC mark after winning one of three close games at #2 North Carolina over the weekend. The Tigers sport a 5-2 home record.

The Tigers are hitting .235 with a .337 slugging percentage and .346 on-base percentage. The team has totaled 18 stolen bases, including seven by Addison Johnson. Ben Paulsen is hitting a team-high .390 with one homer and eight RBIs, while Jeff Schaus is batting .310 with two homers and a team-high 11 RBIs along with a .524 on-base percentage thanks to 12 walks.

The pitching staff has a 3.02 ERA and .217 opponents' batting average. The staff has allowed 28 walks against 92 strikeouts, good for a 3.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Ryan Hinson has made a team-high six relief appearances two walks and 11 strikeouts, while fellow lefty reliever Casey Harman has 14 strikeouts against only two walks in 11.0 innings pitched. The team is fielding at a .970 clip as well.

Worth Noting
• Clemson has lost its four games by a combined eight runs.

• Righthanded batters are 0-for-35 against freshman lefthander Chris Dwyer this season.

The Tigers dropped three spots to #22 in the Baseball America poll after going 2-3 in five games last week, while they fell out of the Collegiate Baseball poll. Clemson also fell three spots to #24 in the Sports Weekly coaches 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.

Schaus Providing Power in Lineup
Sophomore outfielder Jeff Schaus (Naples, FL) is tied for the team-lead with two home runs and leads the squad with 11 RBIs. Both of his home runs came at #2 North Carolina against one of the nation's best pitching staffs. His first was a two-run shot in the second inning on March 6 that hit over halfway up the batter's eye in centerfield. Clemson won that game 5-4 in 10 innings. His other long ball was a mammoth three-run homer to right field with two outs in the ninth inning on March 8 that gave the Tigers an 8-7 lead after trailing 7-1 at one point. His power numbers are somewhat of a surprise considering that he only hit three long balls as a freshman in 2008. But all three of those homers came within the last seven games of the season. He has also displayed a keen eye at the plate, as he has a team-best .524 on-base percentage thanks to 12 walks against only four strikeouts in 2009.

The 2009 season has also seen him pick up where he left off in 2008 in terms of hitting against ACC competition. As a freshman, he hit .360 with a .462 on-base percentage (both team-highs) in ACC regular-season games. Both those marks were tops in the league among freshmen. He has continued his torrid hitting against ACC foes in 2009, as he was 4-for-9 (.444) with two homers, five RBIs, and a .615 on-base percentage at #2 North Carolina from March 6-8.

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