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The Tiger

Tigers look forward to facing the Eagles

Ashely Stout, Asst. Photo Editor

Several players gather in the dugout during a game at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

After an impressive series win against the Gamecocks, Monte Lee and co. are about to hit the road this weekend and begin conference play. Before getting on the bus, however, they have a final home game this Wednesday against Tom Riginos’ Winthrop team. 

This time last year, the two teams played under similar circumstances: Clemson — fresh off of a series win against the Gamecocks — were looking to get another victory to build momentum going into ACC play, only to be stifled by the Eagles 5-4 at Doug Kingsmore. So, this begs the question: Could it happen again?

Winthrop started the season 4-0, but have not impressed since, going 2-5 over their last seven games. They’ve played two games against top 25 opponents already this season — first against the Gamecocks, then against the Tar Heels of North Carolina a week later — but were clobbered in both games by a combined score of 27-10. This can be attributed in large part to some very suspect pitching by the Eagles, who only sport one pitcher with an ERA below four yet three and have held opponents to five runs or less in only two games during their skid. 

Fielding has also been unstable for the Eagles, who have committed 14 errors on the year already (six by third basemen Mark Spires). Given the Tigers’ offensive success thus far at home, it’s beginning to seem like this staff will be a pushover against Clemson’s bats.

If there’s anything Clemson should watch out for with the Eagles, it’s their hitters, who have slugged hard enough to keep games close. In particular, keep an eye on sophomore Anthony Paulsen, who has hit opponents at a .405 average to go with a slugging percentage of .571. Nevertheless, Clemson’s pitching staff — who are still exceeding preseason expectations ten games into the season — is very much capable of limiting this team’s offense enough to back Clemson’s bats. The Eagles should be able to get baserunners and create some threats on the diamond, but the Tigers should be able to keep runs at a minimum.

This year’s Clemson team has proved that it is much different than last year’s squad, and there’s little reason to doubt that they can get better results against this Winthrop team than they did last year. If Clemson keeps performing at the level at which they have been playing this season at home, this game could be an easy win and a confidence booster heading into ACC play. At this point, the only thing that could prevent the Tigers from winning this game is if they get caught up in last weekend’s results and lose focus on the present.

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