Baseball: Clemson Series Preview

After coming out of one of the softer sections of their schedule, the Miami Hurricanes will hit the road this coming weekend to take on a tough Clemson team in what should be a tough test.

The Tigers are 25-16 this season and have been particularly good in the friendly confines of Doug Kingsmore Stadium, where they have gone 16-8. Tyler Krieger, a sophomore from Johns Creek, Georgia, sets the tone for the offense. He is hitting .340 with 11 doubles, 11 steals, and 22 RBI. Garrett Boulware and Steve Wilkerson have been just about as good, however.

Boulware, the junior catcher, is hitting .327 with a .402 on-base percentage, 12 doubles, four home runs, and 27 RBI. He has also walked (21) more times than he has struck out (15).

Wilkerson, a senior, has almost identical numbers with a .326 average, 13 doubles, four home runs, and 25 RBI.

Steven Duggar, who sports a .310 batting average, .373 on-base percentage, with 28 RBI and a team-leading 18 steals, provides a bit of both pop and speed. Tyler Slaton, a diminutive junior, is also hitting .310, and with ten steals, has speed to burn as well.

Rounding out the .300 hitters is junior Jay Baum, who is hitting .300 on the nose with 11 doubles and 19 RBI.

Freshman Chris Okey is hitting just .256, but he has shown incredible potential, particularly as a power threat. He has four home runs on the season and leads the team with 36 RBI. Keep an eye on this kid, as he could be one of the bigger power bats in the ACC over the next couple of years.

The Tigers are going to throw some fantastic starting pitching at the Canes, particularly on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, lefty Matthew Crownover will take the hill. He will come into the game with a 6-3 record and a 2.28 ERA. In 59.1 innings, he has struck out 50 and walked 13. Opposing batters are hitting .242 against him.

On Saturday, things will get tougher still, as Clemson will send junior righty Daniel Gossett to the mound. He is 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA. In 60 innings, he has struck out 57, walked 19, and the batting average against him is a paltry .183.

The Sunday starter, Jake Long, doesn't have the sparkling numbers of the other two. He is 2-2 with a 4.54 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting just .213, but it's the walks that have been the issue. In 41.1 innings, he has issued 26 free passes and hit five batters. But that's not to say that he's not capable of putting together a good outing. Just two weekends ago, he threw five innings against Virginia, giving up four hits and just one run. Given that his 41.1 innings have come spread out over nine starts, Clemson will likely look to just get him through four or five innings before they turn it over to the bullpen. They don't have a ton of depth out there, but the Tigers do boast two bona fide bullpen aces.

Their closer is Matt Campbell. The senior righty from Alpahretta, Georgia, has a 0.42 ERA in 21.2 innings over 17 appearances. In those innings, he has struck out 35 and the batting average against him is just .156.

Drew Moyer doesn't have quite the same type of gaudy numbers, but he has been rock solid. In 25.1 innings (16 appearances), he has struck out 24 and opposing batters are hitting .268 off of him.

The Hurricanes have been playing very good baseball of late, but this series is their toughest test since playing Virginia, which also happens to be the last time they dropped a series.

Miami is playing a much better brand of baseball now than they were at that point, but this is going to be a tough series, there are no two ways about it. I get the feeling that it's going to come down to that Sunday matchup. With Radziewski looking better over the last few weeks, you would have to feel pretty good about Miami's chances in that case.

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