OMAHA, Neb. – Records and statistics may mean the world to statisticians and math scholars, but they seldom apply to the College World Series.
Clemson is proof positive of that.
Even after winning the Clemson Super Regional, the Tigers entered the CWS with a 43-23 record. Arizona State, who was the top national seed, was the heavy favorite entering the tournament with an incredible 52-8 record.
As it now stands, the Tigers are on the brink of the CWS championship series. The Sun Devils are long gone.
As surprising as it is that Arizona State finished the CWS 0-2, some here are equally surprised that Clemson is a win away from playing for the national title.
They shouldn't be.
Clemson has played fantastic baseball.
The Clemson offense got a wealth of credit for the job it did in the Super Regional against Alabama. So far in Omaha, the clutch pitching staff deserves the most credit.
In the Tigers' first game against Arizona State, junior left-handed pitcher Casey Harman, who entered the CWS with a 4.55 ERA, put together a solid start. Against one of the nation's most potent lineups, Harman bested ASU heralded pitcher Seth Blair. He struck out five batters and allowed just three runs on seven hits in six innings.
"It's really just about going out there and being aggressive," Harman said. "I was really pounding the zone with my fastball and using my slider a bit, too."
As if Harman's solid performance wasn't enough, Clemson sophomore righty Scott Weismann, who entered the tourney with a 5.66 ERA, answered Harman with a good showing of his own against Oklahoma. Weismann struck out four batters and allowed just a run on three hits in five innings in a contest that put the Tigers in this position.
Clemson reliever Alex Frederick also has risen to the occasion.
Frederick entered the CWS with a 4.50 ERA in 30 innings. But so far, you could argue the righty has been the Tigers' most valuable pitcher in the tournament.
Frederick tossed three scoreless innings in the 6-3 win over Arizona State before tossing a shutout inning in a 6-4 win over Oklahoma.
"I feel like every time I go out there I just try to do my best no matter what the situation is," Frederick said. "Confidence comes along with how you feel, and I feel like we go out there each day and we're upbeat."
The Tigers have had plenty of reasons to upbeat at the CWS. The offense is doing enough to get the job done, the defense has been more than adequate, and the pitching staff, which entered the series with an unimpressive 5.47 ERA and was considered the missing link, has far exceeded everyone's expectations.
Records and statistics sometimes can tell the truth about teams.
Clemson, so far, has been an exception to that theory.
The stars might just be aligning for this team.
- Clemson Super Regional