Clemson Baseball: Tigers vs Georgia Bulldogs Preview

Clemson sophomore Will Taylor (16) hits a ball against Wake Forest University during the bottom of the third inning at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson Thursday, March 30, 2023.Clemson Baseball Vs Wake Forest March 30 2023
Clemson sophomore Will Taylor (16) hits a ball against Wake Forest University during the bottom of the third inning at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson Thursday, March 30, 2023.Clemson Baseball Vs Wake Forest March 30 2023 /

Tiger’s Road Trip continues in Athens!

Coming off a big series win against Florida State, the Clemson Tigers (19-14) will travel to Athens for a midweek matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs (18-14).

First pitch is set for 7:00 pm Tuesday, April 11th. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

This meeting will be the first of the year played between the two programs, which meet twice annually in a home-away series. They are slated to meet for a second time at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on April 18th.

This rivalry, which dates back to 1900, is one of the oldest and most historic rivalries in college baseball. Georgia has gotten the better of the Tigers as of late, winning 6 straight matchups between 2018 and 2021. Clemson won both games in 2022 however, and will look to extend that winning streak Tuesday afternoon.

Cut from the Same Cloth

When one looks at this matchup, the similarities between these two teams are staggering.

Only a single win separates these teams’ records, as Clemson has played one more game than the Bulldogs. Both teams have lost 14 of their matchups this season.

Both clubs enter this game following their first conference series wins of the season: Clemson over Florida State and Georgia over Kentucky. Like the Tigers, the Bulldogs also suffered a loss in game one, but rebounded to win games two and three. Curiously, both won their respective game threes by a score of 6-2.

Both teams also probably feel they are better than what their record might imply. Similar to Clemson, many of Georgia’s losses have come as a result of only one or two runs. Late game bullpen blunders have also plagued this team, causing them to lose several games they could have–and arguably should have–won.

Despite playing in different conferences, Clemson and Georgia have played many of the same opponents this season: South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, Presbyterian College, and Kennesaw State.

As if by fate, the Tigers and Bulldogs both achieved an identical record of 7-4 against these teams.

Most importantly, it seems both these teams are starting to find their rhythm. Clemson coach Eric Bakich and Georgia coach Scott Stricklin each hope to build off of their team’s momentum with a big out-of-conference win.

Pitching Matchup

Tonight’s game will be a battle between southpaws on the bump, as Clemson is set to start sophomore Rocco Reid, and Georgia will counter with Luke Wagner.

Through his 9.1 innings of work this season, Wagner has allowed 9 ER on 10 hits and 11 BB. He has not allowed a home run in 2023.

For Reid,  2023 has been a season to forget thus far. Through 9 appearances, the left hander has amassed an ERA of 12.46, the highest on the team. In is combined total of 8.2 innings pitched, Reid has allowed 12 earned runs on 16 hits.

The real issue for Reid, however, has been his walk total, as he has allowed 9 batters to reach via base on balls.

The good news for Tiger fans is that these stats are not an accurate reflection of Reid’s potential. Bad outings against South Carolina (0.1 IP, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BB) and Georgia Tech (2.1 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BB) have inflated these stats a bit. Furthermore, stats from previous seasons show he his a better pitcher than what he’s shown in 2023.

If the Tigers hope to beat Georgia, they will need Reid to return to his winning ways, controlling his walk total and pitching out of crucial situations.

Key to the Game

In their series win over Kentucky, Georgia was led by exception play from starting pitchers Liam Sullivan and Charlie Goldstein, who combined for 0 earned runs in 12.1 innings, allowing only 8 hits and 5 walks in two games.

However, the Bulldog’s bullpen did not enjoy the same success in the series. In their game one loss to Kentucky, two of the Dog’s top late game relievers, Matthew Hoskins and Chandler Marsh, combined for 4 runs on 3 hits and 6 walks in just 1.2 innings of relief, ultimately costing Georgia the game.

The key for the Tigers in this matchup is to get to Georgia’s bullpen. If the Tigers can stay competitive against Wagner,  scratching a few runs across and working deep into at bats to push his pitch count up, they will have a good chance to force Stricklin to turn to his bullpen early. From there, they should have the opportunity to tack on addition runs in the late innings.

Clemson was successful against Florida State due to their patience at the plate and their aggressiveness on the base paths. The Tigers worked their way into good hitter’s counts throughout the series, earning 15 walks and 24 hits total through three game stretch.

The Tigers may opt to take a similar approach in this matchup. According to, Georgia’s pitching staff walks an average of 5.28 batters per nine innings (tied for 214th in D1). Similarly, they allow 9.14 hits per game. If the Tigers can stay patient at the dish, they will likely either see good pitches to hit, or work numerous base on balls, both of which will help push runs across.

Once on base however, the Tigers may need to be a bit more conservative against Georgia’s defense. Clemson pressured Florida State’s defense into mistakes by being aggressive on the base paths. The most prominent example of this came in game two of the series, as the Tigers pushed across two runs on a single bunt.

While this strategy worked well against Florida State, it is unlikely to work as well against a stout Bulldogs defense. Georgia’s fielding percentage currently sits at .979, ranking them in the top-10 among power five programs. Likewise, they have suffered only 23 errors through 32 games. They have also turned 20 double plays throughout their campaign.

While the Tigers should by no means play station to station, they should perhaps take a more traditional approach to scoring runs in this game, rather than trying to force mental mistakes on a proven Georgia defense.

What will Happen

These two teams look very evenly matched, both on paper and through this juncture of the season. This has the makings to be a very competitive, very hard fought contest.

It will come down to the starters; whichever pitcher can eat innings for his team, and keep traffic off the base paths, will be the pitcher who gets the win.

It’s one game, and both teams are capable of winning it. And, of course, it’s baseball, so there’s really no telling what’ll happen when the guys get on the diamond. But…

My 2-1 series win prediction came to fruition in Tallahassee for the Tigers, let’s hope manifestation works out again in Clemson’s favor.

Clemson Continues Playing Well and Earns a Big Road Win Over the Dogs.

Check back in for a recap following the game, and stay tuned for a preview of the Tiger’s weekend series against Notre Dame.