Clemson's aim for Omaha starts this weekend

Baseball - Matthew Crownover

Photo by Mark Crammer

Baseball - Matthew Crownover

SERIES SETUP

• Who - Eastern Michigan (0-0) at Clemson (0-0)

• Rankings - EMU - NR. CU - #13 BA, #21 CB, #16 USA

• Where - Clemson, SC (Doug Kingsmore Stadium)

• When - Friday (4 PM), Saturday (2:30 PM), Sunday (1 PM)

• Watch - TigerCast (ClemsonTigers.com)

• Listen - TigerCast (ClemsonTigers.com), WCCP (104.9 FM)

• Promotion (Friday) - Free candy hearts for first 1,000 fans

• Promotion (Saturday) - Show Saturday's men's basketball ticket stub and receiving half-price admission.

• Promotion (Sunday) - Show voucher at @ClemsonBaseball on Twitter or Instagram and receive $2 bag of popcorn

SERIES HISTORY

• Overall Record - Eastern Michigan leads 3-2 (1975-11)

• Record at Clemson - Clemson leads 2-1 (2011)

THE STARTING PITCHERS

• Friday - RHP Jake Andrews (JuCo transfer) vs. RHP Daniel Gossett (2013: 10-4, 2.56)

• Saturday - RHP Sterling Sharp (Freshman, 30th round pick by the Atlanta Braves) vs. LHP Matthew Crownover (7-3, 2.19)

• Sunday - LHP Paul Schaak (3-4, 5.46) vs. RHP Jake Long (ETSU transfer)

EASTERN MICHIGAN OVERVIEW

• Led by sixth-year Head Coach Jay Alexander.

• Had a 26-28 overall record and 12-15 MAC record in 2013. Alexander is 140-148 overall 56-52 in conference at EMU.

• Outfielder Sam Ott returns after leading the 2013 team with a .327 batting average.

CLEMSON OVERVIEW

• Had a 40-22 overall record and an 18-12 ACC mark in 2013.

• Returns eight of nine position starters and 77 percent of its innings pitched from 2013.

• Ranked No. 13 by Baseball America, picked third preseason in the Atlantic Division.

• Starts the season with a seven-game homestand (February 14-25).

• Jack Leggett on the Tigers' rotation: "There is really good pitching throughout the country and the ACC. There's a lot of good pitching going on. I'll take Daniel Gossett on Friday against anybody. He's going to give you great battles. He's going to throw strikes and compete. Crownover's gotten better and he's more healthy. He has more velocity. His location is a little off from where he wants to be. He's going to be a factor for us. And of course you've got Jake Long, who nobody saw last year expect in intersquad scrimmages because he was redshirting."

• Pitching coach Dan Pepicelli on Crownover's arm now (two years removed from elbow surgery): "I think he's capable of doing more. His arm is better. His body is in a different place because he's been able to lift in that time period. His strength has gotten better and his high-end fastball has gotten better. This will still be more experiences for him. I think he's good. I think he's ready. He'll be very good in the 2-spot. I have no doubt there will be games where he's learning things...It's a pitch-by-pitch proposition. You have to make a quality pitch and turn one into two. It's not all of a sudden that you're playing harder that you get this amount of success."

• Senior reliever Matt Campbell will likely be the late-innings go-to with righty Patrick Andrews "dinged-up" per Leggett. Leggett says side-armer Clay Bates has also come along as a relief option.

• A starter two years ago, righty Kevin Pohle has had a long road to recovery from a shoulder injury sustained while at the Cape summer league. Leggett says he's come strong on of late, but they will take it slow as this is basically his fall ball after taking time off from throwing. Among the freshmen, lefty Alex Bostic is expected to be a factor this season, but he is also working his way back from an arm injury sustained before coming to Clemson.

• Senior first baseman Jon McGibbon could miss some time this weekend after banging up his knee in a collision in practice. Sophomore outfielder Maleeke Gibson (shoulder) is a possible redshirt now, but could also return late in the season like senior Shane Kennedy (knee).

• Opening Day starter Gossett on expectations: "Omaha. It's got be. It's been our goal since day one obviously. We haven't done it the past three years. Coach Leggett has never had a team go more than four years without going to Omaha. So, who are we to start messing that tradition up?"

QUICK HITS

• Clemson is 8-1 in its last nine season-openers. Its only loss during that span came in 2012 against UAB.

• Junior catcher Garrett Boulware, junior righthander Daniel Gossett, and senior first-baseman Jon McGibbon were named 2014 team co-captains.

• The last Tiger pitcher to start on opening day in back-to-back years was Ryan Mottl (1999,00). Daniel Gossett started in the 2013 opener.

LEGGETT LISTS

• Was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame on January 3, 2014 in Dallas, TX.

• In 34 overall seasons, he has 1,264 wins, 11th-most in Division I history (10th place has 1,267 wins) and fifth-most among active coaches.

• His 887 victories as head coach of the Clemson program (1994-14) are tied for sixth-most in the country during that time span.

• Has led Clemson to a winning ACC regular-season record 19 times in 20 seasons at Clemson.

• Has 231 top-25 wins, 125 top-10 wins, and 60 top-five wins as head coach at Clemson.

PRESEASON HONORS

Several Tigers earned preseason recognition. See the list below.

#30 GARRETT BOULWARE, C

• #20 ACC prospect for the 2014 draft by Baseball America

#44 MATTHEW CROWNOVER, LHP

• #65 sophomore in the nation by Perfect Game

• #13 ACC prospect for the 2014 draft by Perfect Game

#9 STEVEN DUGGAR, OF

• #21 sophomore in the nation by Baseball America

• #33 sophomore in the nation by Perfect Game

• #4 ACC prospect for the 2015 draft by Baseball America and Perfect Game

#23 DANIEL GOSSETT, RHP

• Third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA

• Second-team All-ACC by CollegeSportsMadness.com

• #77 player in the nation by Baseball America

• #63 junior in the nation by Perfect Game

• #8 ACC prospect for the 2014 draft by Perfect Game

• #15 ACC prospect for the 2014 draft by Baseball America

#11 SHANE KENNEDY, OF/INF

• Second-team All-ACC by CollegeSportsMadness.com

#3 TYLER KRIEGER, INF

• #54 sophomore in the nation by Perfect Game

• #9 ACC prospect for the 2015 draft by Perfect Game

• #10 ACC prospect for the 2015 draft by Baseball America

#25 CHRIS OKEY, C

• #3 freshman in the nation by Baseball America

• #5 freshman in the nation by Perfect Game

• #1 freshman in the ACC by Baseball America and Perfect Game

• #1 ACC prospect for the 2016 draft by Perfect Game

#4 ELI WHITE, INF

• #100 freshman in the nation by Perfect Game

#17 STEVE WILKERSON, INF

• #36 senior in the nation by Baseball America

• #41 senior in the nation by Perfect Game

• First-team All-ACC by CollegeSportsMadness.com and Perfect Game

#8 WESTON WILSON, INF

• #84 freshman in the nation by Perfect Game

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