Thursday, September 29, 2022

Breakdown of the Oxford Regional: A Look at Clemson, Illinois and Jacksonville State

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor
adam.brown@hottytoddy.com

Postseason baseball brings a clean slate to the 64 teams vying for their spot under the Omaha skies, but teams must first compete in Regionals to advance. Four teams will come to Oxford this weekend to step in between the chalk of Swayze Field in hopes of advancing to a Super Regional.

Photo by Petre Thomas/Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss welcomes in the No. 2 seed Illinois, No. 3 seed Clemson and the No. 4 seed Jacksonville State.

Head Coach Mike Bianco discussed with the local media on Monday about the field of teams that will take the diamond this weekend.

“Hosting a Regional is a reward to the team, the program and the fans. It is really cool to be home at this time of year,” Bianco said. 

On Friday night Ole Miss matches up against Jacksonville State at 7 p.m.

The Gamecocks roll into town with a 37-21 overall record and a 22-8 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference. Jacksonville State won the 2019 OVC Championship after defeating Morehead State 10-3.

This season, Jacksonville State is led at the dish by catcher Nic Gaddis who is batting a clip of .333 with a total of 29 extra base knocks. Out of the 29 extra base hits, he leads his club in home runs with 13. Gaddis has driven in 42 RBIs.

As a team, the Gamecocks are batting at a .271 clip with a total of 21 home runs and 74 RBIs.

“Jacksonville State is a really good team,” Bianco said. “It’s a really good field with three power five teams coming in.”

Clemson comes to Swayze with a 34-24 mark on the year. The Tigers went 1-1 in the ACC Tournament as they defeated the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals 7-1.

Senior Grayson Byrd leads the Tigers at the plate with a .315 batting average and in RBIs with 56. Byrd’s teammate junior Logan Davidson is tied with him in the race for the team lead in home runs.

The Clemson offense is scoring on average 6.6 runs per contest and hitting .266 with a .365 on-base percentage, .444 slugging percentage and 91 stolen bases.

Illinois heads into the Regional as the No. 2 seed after a 36-19 record and a 15-9 mark in the Big Ten. The Fighting Illini dropped two quick games in their conference tournament to Maryland and Michigan.

This year, their squad has three players batting over the .320 mark on the season all lead by senior Grant Van Scoy who is toting a .347 clip at the dish.

As an offensive club, Illinois is hitting at a .279 clip. The pitching staff comes in with a 3.66 ERA with an opponent’s batting average of .217.

This weekend might be the last time for some players to button up the uniform and step in between the chalk at Swayze in front of a home crowd. 

“(The team) has mentioned that they want to leave their mark on the program,” Bianco said. “This is a club that deserved better than that last season.”

The city of Oxford will be impacted as all the people come in to support their teams and enjoy what Oxford has to offer.

“It is a great weekend that wasn’t initially expected and we’re thrilled to be hosting three teams traveling from out of state to Oxford,” said Mary Allyn Hedges, executive director of Visit Oxford. “Many of our hotels are full and Oxford should expect a busy weekend in restaurants, stores and hotels.”

The Visit Oxford office has added two double-decker bus tours on Friday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to give fans an activity before the baseball games start. This weekend also kicks off the Summer Sunset Series in the Grove on Sunday at 6 p.m., so baseball-goers will have a chance to hear some great music before the game at 8 p.m.

“All in all, it should have a huge economic impact on the city,” she said. 

Game Schedule

Friday, May 31

Game 1: Clemson vs. Illinois, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)

Game 2: Jacksonville State vs. Ole Miss, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Saturday, June 1

Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, Noon

Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 2

Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser, 2 p.m.

Game 6: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 8 p.m.

Monday, June 3 (if necessary)

Game 7: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser, 6 p.m.


Hottytoddy.com intern Jackson Solari contributed to this report

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