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The Tiger

Clemson to face Pittsburgh in ACC Matchup

Ashley Stout, Asst. Photo Editor

Freshman Clemson pitcher Brooks Crawford (19) has a 1.35 ERA and 11 strikeouts this season.

The Clemson Tigers are coming off of an unexpected win against the Furman University Paladins, finishing the game 9-7 at Fluor Field. The Tigers have another game on Wednesday against the Western Carolina University Catamounts, but the big series coming up is against another ACC rival, the Pittsburgh Panthers. 

The Panthers are a similar team to the Tigers. They have batted .288 as a team and have limited opposing hitters to a .262 average, while the Tigers have batted .285 as a team and allowed opposing hitters a .236 average. 

As far as their overall hitting goes, the Panthers are not as prone to home runs as the Tigers, but they do have more blanketed, consistent hitting. In other words, their entire lineup is more productive as a whole than the Tigers, but Clemson’s best far and away beat Pitt’s best. 

The Panthers best hitter, Alex Kowalczyk, is hitting .315 and is tied for the team lead in home runs, while also sporting a team-high 13 extra base hits and 21 runs batted in (RBI). The Panthers also have Charles LeBlanc, Frank Maldonado and Nick Yarnall, all of whom have a batting average above .300 and an on-base percentage above .388. 

The Panthers rotation isn’t too shabby either. Featured senior right-hander Aaron Sandefur was named ACC Pitcher of the Week for last week’s performance against the Boston College Eagles. He went all nine innings and threw the most strikeouts at Charles L. Cost Field (Pittsburgh’s home field) in program history (12). Sandefur was one strikeout shy of the Pittsburgh all-time record. Junior righties Josh Falk and Sam Mersing are expected to start the next two games. While Mersing is expected to start the Sunday game, he has been having some recent trouble with his command that has led to a season earned run average (ERA) of 7.08. 

The Panthers’ bullpen has been relatively poor lately, as main relievers Jextin Pugh and Taylor Isaac Mattson both have an ERA above four on the year. Freshmen Gus Culpo and Yaya Chentouf have both been very good, but have seen limited action thus far. Tyler Garbee has also had to make some spot starts, but he has gotten shelled a couple of times, including once against Florida State where he gave five earned runs in just one inning of work. 

Clemson has had its struggles recently too, but they take a very good winning record of 18-6 back home to Doug Kingsmore, where they have only lost one game so far this season. The key for this series will be to jump on their pitchers early and keep making aggressive plays on the base paths. The Tigers are 14-0 this season when leading after the sixth inning (due to the stellar work from the bullpen) and should continue to play with that same intensity. 

The first game against the Pittsburgh Panthers will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 4 p.m. start time on Saturday and a 1 p.m. start on Sunday. 

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