Palmetto State rivals’ matchup is must-see series
No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 4 South Carolina
This top-10 matchup of Palmetto State rivals features two of last year’s College World Series participants in a home-neutral-home series with Saturday’s game to be played in Greenville, S.C. The defending national champion Gamecocks enter the weekend with a perfect 7-0 mark, while Clemson is cruising on a five-game winning streak. Christian Walker leads the Gamecocks offensively with a .538 batting average, four doubles, two homers and 12 RBI, while Clemson’s Spencer Kieboom is hitting .550 with a team-high 10 doubles. Both pitching staffs are solid as South Carolina boasts a 2.00 ERA and Clemson has compiled a 2.14 ERA this season. The Tigers have not allowed an earned run in the last 24 innings. The two teams have met 292 times with the Tigers leading the series 167-123-2, but South Carolina won the last match-up in last year’s CWS to advance to the championship series.
• Schedule: 7 p.m. ET March 4 at Carolina Stadium in Columbia; 4 p.m. March 5 at Fluor Field in Greenville (ESPN3.com); 2 p.m. March 6 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson (CSS)
No. 26 Miami at No. 1 Florida
These Sunshine State rivals are both coming off tough losses at Tuesday’s Florida Four Classic at George Steinbrenner Field. The top-ranked Gators fell to Florida State, while Miami lost to USF. Miami is hitting just .241 with freshman first baseman Brad Fieger leading the Hurricanes with a .333 average. The Gators are batting a solid .336 as Daniel Pigott boasts a team-high .538 average. Friday’s left-hander pitching matchup should be a good one with Miami freshman Bryan Radziewski (1-0, 0.82 ERA) facing Florida sophomore Brian Johnson (2-0, 0.00 ERA). Miami leads the all-time series 123-99-1, but Florida has won six of the past seven contests. UM head coach Jim Morris will not attend the series in Gainesville. He is recovering from gall bladder surgery and an infection at home.
• Schedule: 7 p.m. ET March 4; 3 p.m. March 5 (Sun Sports); 12:30 p.m. March 6 (Sun Sports)
No. 15 Stanford at No. 12 Texas
Stanford continues tough early season schedule against the Longhorns – the Cardinal’s fourth nationally-ranked opponent this season. Including this weekend’s series in Austin, Stanford will have played nine of its first 11 games on the road. Texas is hitting just .252 as a team, but Erich Weiss has propelled the Longhorns offensively with a .538 average and eight runs score. Stanford’s Kenny Diekroeger leads the team with a .441 average. Mark Appel (0-1, 3.09 ERA) will be looking for his first victory in Friday’s match-up against junior Taylor Jungmann, who is the first player in school history to open the season with consecutive nine-inning complete-game shutouts. Texas leads the series 25-24-1, including a three-game sweep in Austin last year. The teams have played a three-game series every season since 1998.
• Schedule: 3 p.m. CT March 4; 2 p.m. March 5; 1 p.m. CT March 6
No. 6 UCLA at Nebraska
The Huskers will play host to a Pac-10 opponent for the first time since 1941 when UCLA visits Lincoln this weekend for a three-game series. The solid-hitting Huskers will pit their .340 batting average against one of the top pitching staffs in the nation as UCLA boasts a 1.62 ERA and 80K in 72 innings. Freshman right-hander Jon Keller (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will has the tough task of matching up with All-America junior right-hander Gerrit Cole (1-1, 1.88 ERA). Nebraska’s Kash Kalkowski (.500) and Kale Kiser (.429) lead the Huskers offensively, while the Bruins do not have a single hitter batting above .385.
• Schedule: 1:35 p.m. CT March 4; 2:05 p.m. March 5; 1:05 p.m. March 6
No. 1 Georgia College at No. 11 North Georgia
Rain has pushed back this Peach Belt Conference series a couple days, but it should be worth the wait. The top-ranked Bobcats have won 11 consecutive games entering the weekend, while North Georgia is coming off a two-game sweep of No. 2 West Florida. GC’s pitching staff is led by Eric Pettepher (3-0, 2.70 ERA) and Mike Guinane (4-0, 1.75 ERA), while Shawn Ward heads up the hitting attack with a .409 average and 26 RBI. Derek Hooper leads North Georgia with a .426 average, while Blake Hobby (1-0, 0.64 ERA) is the Saints’ top starter.
• Schedule: 4 p.m. ET March 6; noon March 7 (DH).
No. 27 Limestone at No. 7 Mount Olive
After re-entering the national rankings this week, Limestone will head to Mount Olive for one of the Saints’ toughest tasks of the season. The Saints have won six of their past seven games, while Mount Olive is riding an 11-game winning streak as they head into their second Conference Carolinas series of the year. Limestone is led on the mound by Josh White (3-0, 3.68 ERA), who has struck out 24 batters in 22 innings. Al Benson tops the Limestone hitting charts with a .410 average and 13 RBI. Limestone pitchers will have their hands full with Michael Knox, who has belted 12 home runs entering the contest.
• Schedule: noon ET March 5 (DH); 1 p.m. March 6
Wingate at No. 23 Catawba
After playing the past six games against ranked opponents, the Bulldogs’ schedule does not get any easier as they head to No. 23 Catawba for a three-game South Atlantic Conference series. Meanwhile, Catawba will be looking to rebound from a 9-1 midweek loss to Pfeiffer. JJ Jankowski (3-0, 2.45 ERA) has fanned 34 batters in 29.1 innings, while Chris Dula tops the Indians offensively with a .375 average and 14 RBI. The defending SAC champion Bulldogs are looking to build on the momentum of last weekend’s sweep of then-No. 13 Tusculum.
• Schedule: 7 p.m. March 4 ET; 3 p.m. March 5 (DH)
No. 1 Heidelberg vs. Mount St. Joseph
The top-ranked 'Berg heads to the Snowbird Classic to open the 2011 season with a great foundation to build upon. Heidelberg returns seven position starters and four starting pitchers from a team that won the Ohio Athletic Conference and made its first appearance at the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship. The matchup with Mount St. Joseph begins a 10-game trip to the Sunshine State.
• Schedule: 10 a.m. ET March 6 in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Wesley College at York (Pa.)
Although Friday’s doubleheader was postponed, the teams are still on schedule for Saturday’s Capital Athletic Conference twinbill as Wesley’s Kevin Murphy looks to extend his 41-game hitting streak. Murphy is batting .447 with 12 RBI and has propelled the Wolverines to a 9-1 record and five consecutive victories. Murphy’s streak is the sixth-longest in NCAA Division III history.
• Schedule: 12:30 p.m. ET March 5