The Sun Devils take the field tonight at Packard Stadium to play the Clemson Tigers, a team with a 44-20 record.
How did they get to Tempe? In a word, determination. With their backs up against the wall in their own stadium, they took home 3 wins in a row to win their regional, including a two-game sweep of Oklahoma State, a team that had beaten Clemson once already in this very same regional.
What kind of offense do they have? Clemson scored 31 runs in the final three games of their regional. Their former cleanup hitter, Kyle Parker, has been mired in a slump, but he was able to deliver in a pinch-hitting situation to help bring the regional title to the Tigers.
Should we fear the Tigers? Did we fear Fresno State in 2008? Fortunately, the Sun Devils are deep and well coached, but the Tigers are playing well and are hungry for a victory in Tempe.
Numbers of note:
- Clemson is 10-9 on the road, while having a very respectable 31-9 record at home.
- ASU, in the same vein, is a whopping 34-4 in Tempe, and 10-6 on the road. Naturally, the home crowd is a big factor, and ASU has a very strong following.
- Their best hitter, Ben Paulsen, is hitting .369 with 13 HRs and 60 RBI.
- Jason Kipnis is hitting .387 with 15 HR and 69 RBI. Not only that, but Carlos Ramirez has stroked 18 home runs in 2009.
- Clemson has a strong bullpen, with 3 relievers toeing an ERA of 2.05 or less.
- Clemson runs out two starters consistently: Casey Harman (7-3, 3.78) and Chris Dwyer (5-5, 4.85). Their numbers do not impress me. Good luck against Leake, boys.
House Of Sparky Prediction: ASU takes it in two. Sweep!