Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett knows this weekend's series with second-ranked Florida State could determine much about the No. 18 Tigers' NCAA regional fate.
A couple of wins against the Seminoles would solidify the Tigers' chances of hosting one of the NCAA's 16 regional sites later this month. If the Seminoles were to sweep the three-game series, the Tigers might have found themselves on the road for the postseason.
The Tigers open the series with the Seminoles tonight beginning at 7 at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. Game 2 will be Saturday at 1 p.m., with the series finale coming on Sunday at 1 p.m.
"It's a series against an ACC opponent and those are always important," Leggett said. "Certainly this one is probably bigger than most because of who we're playing against and the time of year. We're still fighting to host a regional and we want to be as high a seed as we can. A good weekend against Florida State would certainly go a long way in helping our cause."
Winning a couple of games against the Seminoles at Dick Howser Stadium won't be an easy task for the Tigers. The Seminoles (42-7) have lost just twice in 34 home games this season.
"They feel very comfortable in their own ballpark," Leggett said. "They've got a great following and it's a very tough place to play. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us, but one we're looking forward to."
What Leggett and the Tigers' pitchers might not be looking forward to are the Seminoles hitters. Florida State is one of the top hitting teams in the country. The Seminoles lead the ACC in almost every major offensive statistical category. The Seminoles, who average 9.2 runs per game, have a team batting average of .362 and lead the ACC with an on-base percentage of .445.
"They're an explosive club at the plate," Leggett said. "They're capable of putting together some big innings. We've got to throw strikes and play good defense. One of the keys is not giving them extra outs."
The Seminoles are led by Tony Thomas Jr., a national player of the year candidate. Thomas is hitting .439 with nine home runs and 24 stolen bases.
"He's a great player," Leggett said. "He can beat you in so many different ways."
Florida State will send senior right-hander Bryan Henry (12-0, 2.59 ERA) to the mound tonight. Henry has made 14 starts this season and has allowed just 74 hits in 90 innings. The Tigers will counter with Daniel Moskos (3-3, 2.20 ERA), who has been used mainly as a reliever this season.
"Florida State is not a one-dimensional team," Leggett said. "They can hit, but they've got very good pitching and they're one of the best fielding teams in the ACC. They don't beat themselves."
The Tigers are coming off a disappointing 6-3 loss to Furman on Wednesday night.
"We've shown flashes of brilliance during some games and then have not been very good in other games," Leggett said. "Our problem all season is that we haven't consistently put together enough good games on a back-to-back basis. We played great Tuesday night against Wofford (12-3 win) and then got outplayed by Furman on Wednesday night."
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