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Tigers face tough midweek test in Western Carolina

Ashley Stout//Staff

After a 1-2 series loss against Wright State, the Clemson Tigers baseball team have to turn their attention to another formidable opponent in Western Carolina. 

Through their first three games, the Catamounts are 2-1 with a huge win against reigning College World Series Champion Coastal Carolina. They defeated the Chanticleers 5-4 on Saturday night during Coastal’s celebration of their national championship win. 

That victory is a strange contrast to their 14-3 loss on opening day against St. John’s. However, Western Carolina and Clemson have a history of close games and the two teams squared off a total of four times last season, including twice in the regional round of the NCAA Tournament. 

While Clemson swept the series, the two regular season matches were highly contested. The first, which was played at the Catamount’s home field, was a 10-8 game that saw the Tigers give up a large lead late in the game. 

The second, which was played at Doug Kingsmore, went into extra innings before Clemson was able to win it with a score of 7-6. 

The two postseason games were large victories for the Tigers, but both matches saw some early struggles. 

With the weekend rotation for Clemson seemingly fixed for now, the attention turns to who will be the Tigers’ midweek starters. 

There was a lot of competition between Alex Eubanks and Tyler Jackson in the spring for the last weekend slot, so with Eubanks filling it is plausible that Jackson will be a midweek starter. He did come out of the pen on Friday night against Wright State but he will be more than ready to throw again on Wednesday if needed. 

With only one midweek game this week, Head Coach Monte Lee and his staff don’t have to worry as much about using arms out of the pen, as they would if there were two games between the

weekend series. 

As far as Western Carolina goes, they are returning most of their offensive power from last season’s team, which hit

72 homeruns. 

Leading the way in that category was Bryson Bowman and Matt Smith, both of whom are back this season. With the Tigers likely having a new pitcher on the mound, they will have to be careful with these two guys in particular. 

Pitching wise, the Catamounts aren’t a deep team and Clemson should be able to have success against

them offensively. 

With the game being played at Doug Kingsmore, the Tigers have a slight advantage that they may very well need in order to win. With such a tough slate of conference games, these midweek matchups could be the difference in making the NCAA Tournament or not later on in the year. 

The Tigers square off with the Catamounts Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. 

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