Regardless of what it does in the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship, Clemson will be a top eight national seed. That means the Tigers will be the host for a regional as well as a super regional should it win the regional.
In the Southeastern Conference tournament, South Carolina likely needs to win the tournament – and that may not even be enough – to get the opportunity to host a regional.
So that leaves open for debate just how important are the respective tournaments for Clemson and USC.
A few weeks ago, it looked as though winning the SEC tourney was about the only hope the Gamecocks had for getting in the NCAA tournament. However, five straight SEC series wins, likely wrapped up a tournament berth for Carolina, which is 32-22 on the season.
An early exit for the Gamecocks would allow them to line up their pitching and rest their starters for the NCAAs.
South Carolina opens tournament play today in Hoover, Ala., in the final game of the single-elimination first round. USC, the No. 5 seed, takes on No. 12 Missouri, 34-21, at approximately 8:45 a.m.
The winner of the game moves into the double-elimination portion of the tournament. The winner will face No. 4 Arkansas on Wednesday in the final of four games.
Missouri earned the final spot in the tournament field by beating Tennessee 8-3 on Saturday. Carolina and Mizzou faced each other just two weekends ago. USC won the series 2-1 with Carlos Cortes hitting a walk-off home run for a 1-0 triumph in Game 3.
The Gamecocks are expected to start freshman right-hander Carmen Mlodzinkski today. Mlodzinski is 2-5 on the season with a 4.93 earned run average in 34 2/3 innings. He’s struck out 34 and walked 15.
Missouri will go with its Friday night starter, lefty T.J. Sikkema. He is 3-5 wit a 3.41 ERA in 66 innings. He’s struck out 75 and walked just 19.
While the ACC championship begins today in Durham, N.C., Clemson doesn’t play until Wednesday. Of course, the ACC uses a different format than most conferences with its 12-team field.
The 12 teams are split into four 3-team pools, with the winners of pool play advancing to the single-elimination semifinals on Saturday. Those winners play Sunday for the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Clemson is the No. 2 seed in the tournament and is the top seed in Pool B. The Tigers, who are 43-13 on the season and ranked No. 4 in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll, face No. 11 Notre Dame on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
On Thursday, the Tigers face No. 7 Miami at 7 p.m.
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