CLEMSON -- If Saturday marked Kyle Parker's last college performance on campus, he went out in style, helping Clemson to a second Atlantic Division championship in 2009-10.
No. 7 Florida State had not been swept in an ACC series since 2006 -- also against Clemson -- until the Tigers' 8-3 win Saturday. The win clinched Clemson baseball's first ACC divisional title since 2006, and the second of the athletic year for Parker, who quarterbacked the football team to its first Atlantic Division title in the fall.
Clemson (37-19, 18-12 ACC) secured the No. 2 seed in next week's ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C., where the Tigers will open play against N.C. State. The Tigers figure to need an excellent showing at the conference tournament to become a candidate to host an NCAA regional.
Clemson, ranked 17th in RPI, entered the weekend projected by Rivals.com as a No. 2 seed at the Myrtle Beach regional. Coastal Carolina and South Carolina are projected to be hosts, and it is unlikely
three South Carolina-based schools would be selected as host sites.
Regardless of what happens in Greensboro, Saturday's win against FSU (39-16, 18-12) was a psychological lift for a team that had dropped four of its last five ACC series.
Brad Miller, who went 7 for 13 as the DH in the series after starting 52 games at shortstop, said the Tigers had a sharpened focus this weekend.
"We had one thing on our minds," Miller said. "Taking it one game at a time and finishing off this week. We knew what we had to do."
While the Tigers improved their postseason resume over the weekend, they also tried to eliminate a perceived weakness. The Tigers entered the series 11-12 against left-handed starters versus 23-7 against right-handers.
In the series, Clemson went 3-0 against the Seminoles' three lefties
Against FSU left-hander John Gast on Saturday, the Tigers' first three batters were all left-handed. The Clemson lineup feature five left-handed bats, and top bench options Chris Epps and Will Lamb were also left-handed.
But any weaknesses against lefties again failed to apply.
The Tigers knocked Gast out of game in the third. Gast allowed six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Clemson coach Jack Leggett said plate discipline was key.
"Staying off the breaking ball," Leggett said. "When we did see the breaking ball, we did some things with it and didn't chase it out of the zone."
Clemson's lack of right-handed bats makes freshman Richie Shaffer's performance important this postseason and in future seasons. Shaffer went 3 for 7 in the series with four RBIs.
Parker is Clemson's best right-handed threat, but an eighth-inning groundout to third base might have marked his last at-bat at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Baseball Prospectus analyst Kevin Goldstein rates Parker as possessing the best power bat among college prospects in the 2010 draft class. The Baseball America staff wrote recently "if Clemson hasn't already started looking for a new quarterback, they should."
While Clemson might need a new right fielder next season, a more immediate concern is finding a third starter.
After a promising middle stretch of the season, freshman Dominic Leone allowed 20 hits and 13 runs over 9 2/3 innings in his last three starts entering Saturday.
Leone struggled against Florida State, pulled after 3 1/3 innings and three earned runs.
Leone was relieved by Alex Frederick, who threw 4 2/3 shutout innings to prevent a Seminoles rally.
"We got timely hits and we played really well defensively," Leggett said. "Our kids played tough all weekend long."
E--Hinson. DP--Clemson 2. LOB--FSU 6, Clemson 9. 2B--Cardullo, Parker. SB--Miller, Schaus, Shaffer. CS--Johnson.
Time--2:59. Att: 5,108.