The No. 11 Hurricanes (23-7, 8-1) will look to avenge last year’s sweep at No. 9 Clemson (16-7, 3-3), when the Tigers head to Coral Gables this weekend.
Last year’s series featured former star pitcher Cesar Carrillo’s first collegiate loss and sent Miami into a tailspin.
Miami is fresh off taking two out of three at Maryland last weekend and has won 17 of its last 18 games. Jemile Weeks tied a freshman school record by collecting a hit in his 16th straight game on Sunday.
The key to Miami’s success thus far has been its starting pitching. Carlos Gutierrez, Manny Miguelez, and Scott Maine have helped the staff lower its ERA to an amazing 2.35. The starters are also a combined 17-2.
Assistant Coach Joe Mercadante said that Clemson can battle right back with its stellar pitching staff.
“This is a great team we’re going to be playing,” Mercadante said. “They have three tremendous starting pitchers that will battle every game, and so far our starters have looked good as well, so it looks like a good pitching match-up every game.”
The starters for Clemson all have ERAs below 3.00, as Josh Cribb leads the pack with a 5-0 record and a 1.82 ERA. Stephen Faris is 2-0 with a 2.06 ERA and Jason Berken is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA on the season.
The Tigers can also swing the bats. Junior outfielder Tyler Colvin is hitting .357 with six homeruns and 22 RBI in only 22 games so far. First baseman Andy D’Alessio can also add the long ball, as he has hit seven homeruns and added a team leading 24 RBI.
After getting swept at Virginia in its first ACC series of the season, Clemson bounced back nicely last weekend, sweeping a ranked N.C. State at home.
If there has been a trend for this Tigers team, it is that they play much better at home. Its record on the road thus far is just 1-5, while they have lost only two games (through Tuesday’s action) at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
In last season’s final series, Clemson was by far the superior team, winning 15-5, 9-2 and 6-2. The Tigers came back five days later and knocked the Hurricanes out of the ACC Tournament with a 9-1 victory. As it is easily depicted by the scores, the pitching faltered and the bats went cold.
Eddy Rodriguez will try and keep those bats hot, taking his team-leading .378 average and six homeruns into the series. Yonder Alonso will look to add to his team-high 39 RBI.
Even though there are so many new faces since the last time the two teams met, Mercadante said that the series a year ago will be in some of their minds.
“It was a tough weekend for us [last year],” Mercadante said. “Hopefully, that will serve as some motivation for us, since we were rolling going into that series and after that it was downhill.”
The series begins Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. All games can be heard on WVUM 90.5 FM.
Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.