Clemson-USC Notes: Duggar seeing benefits of 'hard work'

Baseball - Steven Duggar

Photo by Mark Crammer

Baseball - Steven Duggar

CLEMSON – Steven Duggar has started every game of his college career – and his consistency at the plate is a major reason why.

The sophomore right fielder, with 69 consecutive starts under his belt, hit an even .300 last season – third on the Tigers in doubles (10) and fourth in total bases (95).

After carrying a nine-game hit streak into 2014, the Byrnes product has extended the team-best mark to 16 going into this weekend’s series with South Carolina.

“I try not think about it honestly,” Duggar said. “I’m just trying to do what can help the team. If I come with runners in scoring position, I’m just trying to drive runs in. Trying to find a way on base and have good at-bats. Fortunately enough I’ve been able to get some hits out of it.”

His instant impact has come of no surprise to Clemson coach Jack Leggett.

“He deserves everything he gets,” Leggett said. “He’s a tremendously hard worker. Focused. Loves to play and loves to practices. He competes. He’s a competitor. I’ve seen this coming a long time ago when I was recruiting him.

“He was going to be a very good player for us. He does a great job in the outfield. Runs the bases well. He’s just into the game.”

A left-handed batter, Duggar has hit .333 against righties and lefties this season, leading the Tigers in extra basehits (3). He is tied with sophomore shortstop Tyler Krieger for the team-lead in runs scored (8).

He’s a part of the middle 2-through-5 in the order that’s hitting .365, averaging four RBIs and three runs through seven games.

After a slow start, center fielder and leadoff hitter Tyler Slaton raised his average to .333 after going 7-for-13 at the plate against Maine last weekend.

Leggett says there’s a certain spirit to this Tiger team.

“Those kids play and practice as hard as can be,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that love to practice and love to play. We have a lot of kids on this team that have energy and their engine runs well. They’re athletic, competitive and like to play and be around the ballpark every day.”

Clemson baseball notes

* CU team batting (through 7 games): .322 BA (second in ACC)/76 H/2 HR/2 3B/15 2B/47 RBI (4th in RBIs).

CU team pitching (through 7 games): 2.81 ERA (10th in the ACC)/58 H/20 ER/54 K/11 BB (best in the ACC with a 1.55 BB per 9)/15 XBH (0 HRs).

• Freshman C/DH Chris Okey leads Clemson in RBIs (11), which means it's no surprise he’s tops among the Tigers in plating runners on base. He has brought home 52.4 percent of Tigers in scoring position and 34.4 on base anywhere when at the plate.

On the wrong side of it is senior 1B Jon McGibbon (.083 of RISP scored), batting .054 on the season. He has one hit, off a right-handed pitcher, but actually bests Okey in on-base percentage (.292 to .281) with only two strikeouts and five walks (and a hit by pitch). The N.Y. native has already matched his error total for all of last season, a remarkable one misplay to 520 putouts.

• Seldom Used Reserve is keeping a lot of cool Clemson baseball stats, including how the Tigers are putting balls in play. In theory, more flyballs and line-drives shows they’re swinging it pretty well. Okey, for example, leads the Tigers (.704) in combined flyball/line-drive rate. Boulware (.695) shows up next, second on the Tigers with 9 RBIs. McGibbon has a .563 FB% without a line-drive yet.

• Clemson junior righty reliever Clay Bates has made a team-high four appearances and holds a team-best 0.54 WHIP. He has six strikeouts and no walks with 19 batters faced – and hit mid-90s on the gun at Doug Kingsmore over the weekend. Of the 12 balls put in play off him, 11 were grounders and the other, a flyball.

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• Clemson sophomore righty Clate Schmidt has also made four appearances, allowing two earned runs on seven hits against 43 batters. He holds a 1.54 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. He has induced groundballs on 72 percent of the balls put in play.

He started the Fluor Field game in the South Carolina series last year, going seven strong for the win.

• Going Friday in Columbia, Clemson ace RHP Daniel Gossett (1-0, 1.50 ERA) has had some success in Carolina Stadium. In two appearances, he has given up two earned runs per start, limiting opponents to 4.5 hits and striking out five batters per effort.

This season, Gossett boasts a 0.75 WHIP with a .182 opposing batting average. He has 11 strikeouts to one walk, holding left-handed batters to a 0.50 WHIP. Last season versus lefty bats, Gossett held them to a .190 average (second-best on team) with a 1.02 WHIP.

USC 1B and leading hitter Kyle Martin is a left-handed bat, hitting .500 with eight RBIs, two homers and a .792 slugging percentage this season.

Follow Brandon Rink on Twitter at @brink_aim and at @orangeandwhite.

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