May 25, 2015

Palmetto State passed over for baseball regionals

Will Jack Leggett have a chance to hit ground balls in practice this week?

Will Jack Leggett have a chance to hit ground balls in practice this week?

It’s become a right of late May and early June in South Carolina.  Dating back to 2007, either USC, Clemson or Coastal Carolina has played host to a NCAA Baseball regional every spring except for 2008.  We can  now add another exception to the history books…2015.

The NCAA Baseball Tournament selection committee Sunday night announced the 16 host sites for this year’s tournament.  It was hoped, if not expected, that either the College of Charleston or Coastal Carolina would be awarded a regional.  Not only were they not awarded a site, no team in the Carolinas was given one.

The 64 team tournament field will be announced Monday starting at Noon.  Charleston and Coastal are definitely in the field.

Clemson is definitely on the bubble and the Tigers’ chances were  diminished some due to the results of conference tournaments across the country.  Only eight  #1 seeds won  tournament championships.  Now, some of those are from one-bid leagues and won’t affect the 33 available at large bids.  But those upsets that occurred in multi-bid leagues, like the Big Ten and the Big 12, hurt bubble teams like Clemson, especially in the case of a team like Texas that would not have made the NCAA Tournament without winning its conference tournament.

 Here’s the list of 16 regional hosts:

• Baton Rouge, Louisiana – LSU (48-10)
• Champaign, Illinois – Illinois (47-8-1)
• College Station, Texas – Texas A&M (45-11)
• Coral Gables, Florida – Miami (Fla.) (44-14)
• Dallas, Texas – Dallas Baptist (43-13)
• Fort Worth, Texas – TCU (43-11)
• Fullerton, California – Cal State Fullerton (34-22)
• Gainesville, Florida – Florida (*43-16)
• Houston, Texas – Houston (42-18)
• Lake Elsinore, California – UC Santa Barbara (40-15-1)
• Los Angeles, California – UCLA (42-14)
• Louisville, Kentucky – Louisville (43-16)
• Nashville, Tennessee – Vanderbilt (*42-18)
• Springfield, Missouri – Missouri State (45-10)
• Stillwater, Oklahoma – Oklahoma State (37-18)
• Tallahassee, Florida – Florida State (41-19)
(*record through Saturday, May 23, 2015)

 

Clemson drops the ball and the game against North Carolina (AUDIO)

Steve Duggar can't bring in a Sky Bolt foul ball that would have ended the inning.  A few pitches later Bolt hit a 3-run homer. (Photo by  Sara D. Davis, theACC.com)

Steve Duggar can’t bring in a Sky Bolt foul ball that would have ended the inning. A few pitches later Bolt hit a 3-run homer. (Photo by Sara D. Davis, theACC.com)

Clemson dropped and booted the ball four times against North Carolina Friday at the ACC Tournament, mistakes that cost the Tigers in a 6-3 loss against the Tar Heels. The question now is whether those four errors that led to a costly loss will cost Clemson a spot in the NCAA Regionals next weekend.

After a 1-2 showing here at the ACC Tournament, Clemson will have to sweat during Monday’s selection show. On one hand they have seven wins over top 10 teams, including four in the past week. On the other hand they have only 32 wins countered with 27 losses. They have a decent, but not great RPI.  Jack Leggett made the case that his team is worthy and capable of making some noise in the postseason, but also conceded he knows it is out of their hands now.

North Carolina, another team fighting for its postseason life, took advantage of the extra opportunities the Tigers provided. Sky Bolt blasted a two-out, three run homer in the third inning that put the Tar Heels up 3-0 before the Tigers had collected their first hit. To compound the mistakes in the field, the Tiger pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone. Starter Jake Long walked five, Clate Schmidt two, including one with the bases loaded and Charlie Barnes also walked a batter. Eight walks and four errors isn’t a good way to win a baseball game or make a case as a postseason team.

Now it’s the waiting game for the Tigers. Leggett said they will practice and prepare under the assumption they will hear their name called on Monday afternoon. Some projections have Clemson landing in Charleston if the Cougars get to host. Leggett would take that in a heartbeat.  He’s take Timbuktu if it meant the Tigers earned a bid in the postseason. Because if it doesn’t happen, unfortunately, Leggett may have coached his last game at Clemson.

BOX SCORE

AUDIO: Jack Leggett, Tyler Krieger, Chris Okey [9:45]

Clemson’s Crownover, Charleston’s Clarke named semi-finalists for Golden Spike Award

Matthew Crownover

Matthew Crownover

Clemson junior lefthander Matthew Crownover and College of Charleston junior righthander Taylor Clarke were named two of 21 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award on Friday. The award, which will be handed out for the 38th time, goes to the top amateur baseball player in the nation.

Crownover, the 2015 ACC Pitcher-of-the-Year, is 10-2 with a 1.59 ERA, .183 opponents’ batting average and 99 strikeouts against 36 walks in 102.0 innings pitched over 15 starts in 2015. With his win at No. 8 Florida State on May 14, he became the first Tiger since 2013 (Daniel Gossett) and the first Tiger lefthander since 1996 (Ken Vining) to total 10 wins in a season.

Clarke a 13-1 record and 1.34 ERA across 107.1 innings pitched. With 136 strikeouts, he is the first CofC pitcher to eclipse the 100 mark since the 2007 season, and currently ranks third all-time in single-season Ks at The College. Clarke has limited his opponents to a lowly .178 batting average this season, and issued just 13 walks.

Here’s the list of the semi-finalists:

Andrew Benintendi, OF, Sophomore, Arkansas, SEC

David Berg, RHP, Senior, UCLA, Pac 12

Phil Bickford, RHP, Sophomore, CC of Southern Nevada, Scenic West (JC)

Alex Bregman, SS, Junior, LSU, SEC

Taylor Clarke, RHP, RS-Junior, College of Charleston, CAA

Matthew Crownover, LHP, Junior, Clemson, ACC

Donnie Dewees, OF, RS-Sophomore, North Florida, Atlantic Sun

Thomas Eshelman, RHP, Junior, Cal State Fullerton, Big West

Carson Fulmer, RHP, Junior, Vanderbilt, SEC

Luke Gillingham, LHP, Junior, Navy, Patriot League

Ian Happ, OF, Junior, Cincinnati, American Athletic

Tyler Jay, LHP, Junior, Illinois, Big 10

Kevin Kaczmarski, OF, RS-Senior, Evansville, Missouri Valley

Scott Kingery, 2B, Junior, Arizona, Pac 12

Brendan McKay, IF/OF, Freshman, Louisville, ACC

Andrew Moore, RHP, Junior, Oregon State, Pac 12

Mike Shawaryn, RHP, Sophomore, Maryland, Big 10

DJ Stewart, OF, Junior, Florida State, ACC

Dansby Swanson, SS, Junior, Vanderbilt, SEC

Dillon Tate, RHP, Junior, UCSB, Big West

David Thompson, 3B, Junior, Miami, ACC

Clemson dominates top seed Louisville, solidifies postseason resume’ (AUDIO)

Steven Duggar and Tyler Krieger celebrate a run.  (Photo by Liz Condo, theACC.com)

Steven Duggar and Tyler Krieger celebrate a run. (Photo by Liz Condo, theACC.com)

Clemson made another big statement Thursday with a 7-2 win over third ranked and top seed Louisville at the ACC Tournament. The win not only kept the Tigers alive for the ACC Tournament title, but also might have been the final boost they needed to secure a spot in an NCAA Regional next week.

Clemson came out bats blazing against Cardinals starter Kyle Funkhouser.  Funkhouser is a first team All-ACC pitcher and projected to go in the first round of next month’s Major League draft, but he looked like he was throwing batting practice for most of his five innings of work. Clemson scored three runs in the first, two in the second and two more in the fifth inning, all of Funkhouser. It’s the second time this season the Tigers have beat the Cardinals ace.

Zack Ewrin was lights out on the mound for Clemson. He powered through eight innings, allowing six hits and one earned run. He struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter. It was a dominating performance. Patt Krall came on to pitch the and allowed one unearned run on one hit to close it out.

BOX SCORE

AUDIO: Jack Leggett, Zack Erwin, Tyler Krieger [11:00]

Quote of the night

“The Clemson baseball program I know always plays tough, always plays hard, plays sometimes better with our back against the wall and when we got something to prove, maybe a little chip on our shoulder. Our kids have always felt very confident in what we are capable of doing and what kind of team we have.”-Jack Leggett

Florida State tomahawk chops Clemson’s momentum (AUDIO)

Reed Rohlman couldn't make the catch to get the Tigers out of the 3rd inning unscathed. (Photo by  Sara D. Davis, theACC.com)

Reed Rohlman couldn’t make the catch to get the Tigers out of the 3rd inning unscathed. (Photo by Sara D. Davis, theACC.com)

Clemson gave Florida State all it could handle and more in a weekend sweep in Tallahassee, but the Tigers couldn’t carry it over to the ACC Tournament in a 3-1 loss to the Seminoles Wednesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

You could argue Clemson outplayed the Noles again, though. The Tigers had more hits (6) than F.S.U. (3), and  they played better defense, too. Clemson did not commit an error, Florida State had two.  But the Seminoles made the most of the one chance they had to get at Tigers ace and ACC Pitcher of the Year Matthew Crownover. With one out in the third inning Crownover gave up a hit to Taylor Walls, the number nine hitter in the order.  After a fly ball made the second out of the inning, Walls stole second. Crownover walked John Sansone and both runners advance to second and third after a wild pitch. DJ Stewart drove them both in with a tripe to left on a ball that looked like it could have been caught by Reed Rohlman if not for a mistimed jump. Then Quincy Nieporte singled to drive in Stewart to make it 3-0.

Florida State didn’t get another hit the rest of the day. But they didn’t have to because Clemson couldn’t take advantage of multiple opportunities in the final three innings. In the 7th the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out, but Glenn Batson grounded into a 3-6-3 inning ending double play. In the 8th the Tigers again loaded the bases with one out, but only managed one run. They stranded two more runners in the 9th when Steven Duggar struck out with runners on first and second.

It’s a tough loss for Clemson, especially after all of the momentum they had going into this tournament. All is not lost though. Tomorrow they face top seed Louisville and win or lose against the Cardinals, they are guaranteed a game against North Carolina Friday afternoon. But with a 31-26 record the Tigers can’t stumble much more, if at all here. The latest projections had them as one of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament next week, but the margin for error is paper thin. A loss against Louisville and or North Carolina and there will be a lot of sweaty palms in the Clemson baseball offices during Monday’s selection show.

BOX SCORE

AUDIO: Jack Leggett, Matthew Crownover, Steven Duggar [6:21]