No. 6 Clemson Baseball Super Regional Preview – Florida Gators

What an unbelievable atmosphere Doug Kingsmore Stadium provided for the Clemson Reional as week ago.  Now, we’re a day away from the start of the first Clemson Super Regional at home since 2010.  

Clemson will welcome a couple of familiar faces back home this weekend with Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan returns as well as Assistant Coach, and former Clemson hurler, David Kopp.

Coach Erik Bakich lauded the Clemson faithful last weekend for the atmosphere and implored them to make it doubly difficult this weekend against the Gators from the SEC.  

Clemson Briefly:

Clemson enters the super-regional with a record of 44-14 (20-10 ACC) after sweeping the Clemson Regional with a win against High Point and two against Coastal Carolina.

Jacob Hinderleider was outstanding last weekend totaling 9 hits, including a 5-5 performance in Saturday’s 4-3 winner’s bracket win against Coastal.  Hindy is stone-faced at the post-game press conferences, but he’s animated on the field and the team and crowd feed off of that energy.

Tristan Smith had arguably his best performance last week against High Point in the opener.  He will get the ball again reportedly, in the opener this weekend.  Smith went 5.1 innings scattering 6 hits, 3 runs and 9 Ks.  All of that without allowing a walk.  Extremely efficient outing for the sophomore lefty from Boiling Springs.

Aidan Knaak continued his steady and impressive season against Coastal last Saturday night.  6 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs and 6 strikeouts.  Like Smith before him, Knaak also did not allow a walk all night.   

Here is your preview of the Florida Gators, the Tigers opponent in the Clemson Super Regional: 

Florida Gators

Head Coach – Kevin O’Sullivan (17th Season)

Record – 32-28 (13-17 SEC)

Wins against: North Florida x2, Columbia x3, Bethune-Cookman, Miami x2, St Mary’s x2, Texas A&M x2, LSU x2, Mississippi State x2, Florida A&M, South Carolina, Jacksonville, Vanderbilt, Stetson, Arkansas, Florida Atlantic, Tennessee, South Florida, Kentucky, Georgia x2, Regional: Nebraska x2, Oklahoma State x2

Losses against: St John’s, Stetson, Miami, Central Florida, St Mary’s, Florida State x3, Texas A&M, Jacksonville, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri x3, South Carolina x2, Vanderbilt x3, Arkansas x2, Tennessee x2, Kentucky x2, Georgia, Regional: Oklahoma State

Probable Pitching Match-Ups:

Saturday @ 2PM: LHP Tristan Smith (Clemson) vs. RHP Liam Peterson (Florida)

Sunday @ 2:30PM RHP Aidan Knaak (Clemson) vs. LHP Jac Caglianone (Florida)

Monday TBA: TBD (Clemson) vs. TBD (Florida)

Here is the best-guess, projected starters for the Florida Gators positionally based on their latest  games, with their season stats as well:

Position Players: 

Cade Kurland (4)Sophomore2nd Base.251; 8 2B, 3B, 14 HR, 41 RBI; 5-5 SB
Jac Caglianone (14)Junior1st Base.410; 7 2B, 31 HR, 63 RBI; 3-3 SB
Ashton Wilson (30)SophomoreRight Field.319; 6 2B, HR, 11 RBI; 2-2 SB
Colby Shelton (10)SophomoreShortstop.261; 12 2B, 3B, 20 HR, 52 RBI; 4-6 SB
Luke Heyman (28)SophomoreCatcher.247; 11 2B, 15 HR, 47 RBI
Tyler Shelnut (6)SeniorLeft Field.268; 18 2B, 14 HR, 49 RBI; 4-4 SB
Dale Thomas (1)Senior3rd Base.219; 8 2B, 3 HR, 19 RBI; 3-4 SB
Brody Donay (29)SophomoreDH.259; 5 2B, 11 HR, 24 RBI
Michael Robertson (11)SophomoreCenterfield.252; 11 2B, 2 HR, 22 RBI; 4-4 SB

Offensively, the Gators are hitting .273 as a team (183rd nationally), with 107 doubles (T-109th), 4 triples (T-278th), 125 home runs (6th) and have knocked in 389 runs.  This Florida team does run a whole lot but has a ton of power at the plate with 6 of their 9 regulars with double digit home runs on the season.

Look no further than Golden Spikes Award Finalist snub Jac Caglianone who is third in the country in home runs on the season (31).  He has just (and I use that term VERY loosely) 63 RBI, which translates to not many people on base when he hits his big flies.  Shortstop Colby Shelton has been hot of late.  He adds 20 home runs to a boom or bust lineup.  

This Florida team had not won three straight games since February, so they are currently tied for their longest winning streak of the season and getting extremely hot at the right time.  For a team that was considered a long-shot to even make the tournament, and now sitting two wins away from Omaha is a tremendous feat.   


Liam Peterson (12)Freshman/RHP3-4; 5.61 ERA; 59.1 IP, 70 K, 32 BB; OppBA: .247
Jac Caglianone (14)Junior/LHP5-2; 4.57 ERA; 67 IP, 76 K, 46 BB; OppBA: .225
Pierce Coppola (18)RS Sophomore/LHP0-4; 9.16 ERA; 18.2 IP, 26 K, 9 BB; OppBA: .303

As a pitching staff, Florida has a 6.13ERA, 158th in the country through the regular season, conference tournament and regional, while opponents are hitting ..265 against the Gators staff.  They’ve surrendered 119 2Bs, 8 3B, and 80 HRs as a staff.  

Jac Caglianone again is the leader on the staff.  The John Olerud Award Finalist for best two-way player in the country will take the ball on Sunday in Game 2 of the Super.  Clemson fans should know that award as Caden Grice was the 2023 recipient of the award.


The atmosphere will be electric again.  The celebration last weekend felt like a huge weight was officially off the coaching staff and players.  The whole program, fans included, embraced the emotion shown by the players and Coach Bakich.  

This series can be tricky.  Clemson tends to give up some long balls. We saw it against Coastal Carolina in both games last weekend.  The Tigers did not hit any home runs in the first two games a week ago and still managed wins.  

This Florida team relies on the big fly and this Clemson team needs to limit that.  One of the scariest hitters in the college game comes up second on Saturday.  We will see how the staff decides to pitch to him.  They will likely take a similar approach to what they did with Charlie Condon of Georgia who is just 5 homers ahead of Caglianone.

The Gators have other threats as well.  The Tigers are going to have to capitalize on their opportunities and not strand so many runners this weekend.  Florida will score.  The Tigers need to as well.  

This should be an awesome series, with the chance to be in Omaha.  I like our chances.  

As always…

Go Tigers!    

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