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Top Teams Clash as Eagles Head to No. 23 Clemson
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The A-Sun conference leading FGCU baseball team will travel to Clemson, S.C. for a four game series with the No. 23 Clemson Tigers. The teams will compete in one game each night from Saturday through Tuesday, with opening pitches scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in all contests.
FGCU-Clemson Series Information
Live Stats: ClemsonTigers.cstv.com
Series: First Meeting
Location: Doug Kingsmore Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
The Eagles (27-13, 17-4 A-Sun) enter the series ranked first in the Atlantic Sun standings after sweeping the series with Belmont last weekend, and picking up a road victory of USF on Tuesday. Down two runs with two outs in the ninth inning, USF’s Junior Carlin doubled to left scoring Jonathan Koscso, but pinch-runner Jimmy Falla was thrown out at the plate by Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.) to end the game in dramatic fashion.
FGCU features two of the top pitchers in the conference in junior left hander Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) and junior right hander Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla.). The pair has allowed only 41 earned runs, racked up 146 strikeouts in 136.2 innings pitched, and hold a combined record of 11-1. Sale leads the conference in ERA (2.15) and strikeouts (93), while averaging 1.39 strikeouts per inning and having walked just nine batters.
Through 40 games, FGCU holds a .331 team batting average with eight players hitting above .310. The team is led by A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year Zach Maxfield’s (North Port, Fla.) .383 average with 33 RBI, 35 runs scored, and five home runs. Junior Shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario, Canada) is second on the squad with a .376 average to go with his 27 RBI, 41 runs, and 14 stolen bases. Junior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) leads the team with eight home runs and fellow classmate Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) is not far behind, with seven round-trippers. The pair have combined for 83 runs, 79 RBI, and are hitting .311 and .344, respectively. The Blue and Green have outscored their opponents 333-234 thus far and have a pitching staff that has an ERA of 5.09 and struck out 340 batters while walking 137.
Clemson, ranked as high as #20 in the nation, went 2-2 in four games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium this past week. The Tigers trounced USC Upstate 22-4 on Wednesday, before North Carolina won two close games to claim the series over the weekend.
On the season, the Tigers sport a 25-16 overall record, including a 20-7 home record, 4-8 road mark, and 1-1 neutral-site record. The Tigers, who are 11-10 in the ACC, are in third place in the ACC Atlantic Division standings behind Florida State (14-7) and Boston College (12-9). Clemson, who has been ranked in the top 25 by at least one poll every week since the start of the 2009 season (a span of 28 weeks), is hitting .301 with a .485 slugging percentage and .410 on-base percentage thanks to 247 walks and 37 hit-by-pitches in 41 games, and has accumulated 55 homers, 85 doubles, seven triples, 67 steals, and are averaging 8.6 runs per game. One reason for the team's recent struggles is its inability to win close games, as Clemson is 0-11 in its last 11 games decided by two runs or less, which includes seven one-run defeats.
Kyle Parker leads the Tigers with a .386 batting average, 16 homers, five doubles, 43 RBIs, 50 runs, a .764 slugging percentage, a .506 on-base percentage, and four steals in 38 games. John Hinson is hitting .372 with nine homers, seven doubles, 46 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases in 38 games (28 starts), while Brad Miller has a .454 on-base percentage.
The pitching staff has a 4.68 ERA and .271 opponents' batting average along with 289 strikeouts against 135 walks in 369.0 innings pitched on the season. Casey Harman is 5-1 with a 3.39 ERA and .224 opponents' batting average along with 54 strikeouts against 16 walks in 63.2 innings pitched over 10 starts. Leone is 2-0 with a 3.41 ERA and .235 opponents' batting average along with 27 strikeouts against nine walks in 34.1 innings pitched over 13 appearances (four starts).