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The Tiger

Tigers face midweek challenge

Ashley Stout, Asst. Photo Editor

Following their second consecutive ACC series win, the Clemson Tigers will take a break from conference play. Instead, they’ll prepare for a midweek game against Presbyterian College, Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The Tigers are coming off a series sweep against Boston College and have been playing very well lately. A lot of fight was shown off in their comeback win against the Eagles on Sunday in extra innings. The Tiger offense has been producing effective hits all season, but recently the bottom part of the lineup has been much more productive. 

That part of the lineup includes first baseman Andrew Cox, who is batting .324 on the season. Already impressive, his average has gone up dramatically over the last five games, and he hit his first career homerun against the Citadel last week. Unfortunately Cox fractured his foot against Boston College on Saturday after being hit by a pitch. He is expected to be out for four to six weeks. 

Luckily, there is plenty of offensive power in the Clemson lineup so losing Cox won’t be an insurmountable blow. Cox’s replacement, Chris Williams, did a nice job of stepping up in Sunday’s win against Boston College. Williams went 2-3 with one RBI. Shortstop Eli White also had a nice game after struggling a bit at the plate recently. He hit his first homerun of the season to aid Clemson’s comeback victory. 

Junior second baseman Weston Wilson has also proved himself a force to be reckoned with over the last several games. He is batting .370 on the season, which is second on the team behind Seth Beer, and he has 16 RBIs so far. Wilson’s hot streak couldn’t have come at a better time with conference play just getting under way, and the Tigers will be facing some big arms down the stretch. Head Coach Monte Lee emphasized the importance on having productivity throughout the lineup by saying, “Somebody is going to have to step up and hit behind [Beer] and drive in some of those runs. Weston [Wilson] has done an unbelievable job of that for us.”

Of course, freshman Seth Beer has already proven himself to be a valuable addition to this Tiger team. He is the team leader in batting average (.453), RBIs (24), hits (29) and homeruns (nine). Beer is also riding a 17-game hit streak and has had at least two hits in the last seven. Pitchers are taking notice of the young talent and he is quickly becoming one of the toughest batters to get out, with only four strikeouts so far on the season. Speaking on Beer’s offensive prowess, Coach Lee said, “You can start to see that people are going to be very careful with Seth Beer. If you throw the ball across the plate, he is extremely dangerous.”

A question mark coming into the season was how the Tiger’s bullpen would hold up. So far, with the exception of a couple of bad starts against Wake Forest, they have answered the challenge and have kept the Tigers in some close games.

Jake Higginbotham will be the likely starter against Presbyterian, and his last outing against the Citadel was excellent. Across five innings pitched, he gave up only two hits and no runs. He also had eight strikeouts against four walks. On the season, Higginbotham has a 3.57 ERA with a 2-0 record. If he can pitch a game like he did against the Bulldogs last week, the Tigers will definitely have a chance to stay in the game.

However, Higginbotham will be facing some tough and experienced batters in the Presbyterian lineup. Returning left fielder Tyler Weyenberg led the Blue Hose in batting average, runs and hits last season. Through his first 18 games, Weyenberg is batting .392 with 15 RBIs. He also has eight stolen bases on the season so the Tigers will have to be clean with fielding to try and keep Weyenberg in check.

Senior first baseman Peter Johnson is also an offensive threat with a .396 batting average and a team-high .500 base percentage. The real story of Presbyterian’s offense is Weston Jackson though, who is batting .443 and has a whopping .786 slugging percentage. Against the Citadel on Saturday Jackson went 5-5 with two doubles, a homerun and four RBIs to propel the Blue Hose over the Citadel 7-6.

Probable starting pitcher David Sauer struggled in his last outing against Wofford on March 16, allowing five runs on five hits in six innings pitched. He did have four strikeouts against no walks but combined with some offensive struggles, Presbyterian wasn’t able to overcome the deficit. On the season, Sauer has a 6.88 ERA with a 2-1 record. He has allowed three homeruns and has thirteen strikeouts and six walks. Opponents are batting .242 against Sauer.

After taking on Presbyterian College at Doug Kingsmore on Tuesday, the Tigers go on a five-game road trip to take on Miami in a three-game series before playing Furman in Greenville and then heading to take on Western Carolina before returning home.

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