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Clemson baseball gears up for James Madison series: Tigers look to continue winning streak this weekend

Jessica Johnson, staff
Junior catcher Chris Okey (25) had two RBIs and two runs during the three game series against Maine. 

After a wild start to the season against Maine, the Clemson Tigers Baseball team looks to take on the James Madison Dukes.

Last weekend, the Tigers achieved their first and second wins in the new Monte Lee era. After a 4-3 loss on Opening Day, the Tigers roared back to beat Maine 9-4 on Saturday, and beat them again with a whopping 19-2 on Sunday.  

The Tigers teed off in their Sunday win. They had 22 hits by 14 different players that included a seven-run fifth inning. Seth Beer, Chris Williams and Weston Wilson caught fire and combined for seven hits, including Beer’s grand slam in the fifth. If they can keep the bats hot going into their next series, JMU won’t know what hit them. 

     Pitching, so far, has been competent. Charlie Barnes should start the team’s Friday contest. In his last game, he pitched 5.1 innings, but gave up three earned runs. 

As Barnes shakes off the rust from a long winter, he should be able to go six or seven innings into his

next start. 

Clemson’s defense looked much improved over last year’s unit. The Tigers committed only two errors in their series last weekend against Maine. Despite one grievous miscue in the outfield on Opening Day, Coach Lee seems to be working his magic in

that department. 

On the other hand, James Madison has a line-up that puts up runs. The Dukes have four hitters who are batting higher than .266 with at least 6 at-bats. Kyle McPherson and Chad Carroll have slugged higher

than .380 and are batting at least .270. 

James Madison is averaging almost five runs per game, while the league average is just 3.9. This will be a challenge this weekend for the Tigers.

On Friday, the Dukes are starting Aaron Hoover, a redshirt senior this season, looking to go out with a bang. 

Hoover is the most experienced pitcher on the team and their most effective weekend starter. Last year, he pitched to a 6.46 earned run average (ERA), pitching 76.2 innings and walking only 17 batters while striking out 51. In Hoover’s first start of 2016, he pitched six innings and only gave up one earned run. 

Hoover will be followed by Colton Harlow on Saturday and Brandon Withers on Sunday.

Clemson’s rotation will feature Charlie Barnes, Clate Schmidt and freshman lefty Jake Higginbotham. In Higginbotham’s debut, he gave up only two earned runs in five innings pitched. We look for another brilliant performance from the standout pitcher.

The first game in the series is slated for 4 p.m. on Friday. The weekend games will be played on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. 


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