CLEMSON BASEBALL

Tigers take aim at ACC Baseball Championship:
Bakich says the target is to continue to play well.

Tigers take aim at ACC Baseball Championship: "We play whoever you tell us to play"


by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The target is to continue to play well.

Clemson defeated Boston College 10-0 Saturday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers, who swept the series 3-0, improved to 40-13 overall and 20-10 in the ACC. The Eagles fell to 22-31 overall and 8-22 in ACC play.

Boston College’s season is over – the Eagles didn’t qualify for the ACC Baseball Championship – but Clemson has plenty of baseball left to play. Clemson, the ACC Atlantic Division champion, is the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament, which will be played at Truist Field in Charlotte, N.C. from Tuesday to Sunday. The Tigers’ first game is either Wednesday or Thursday on ACC Network. The ACC will announce Clemson’s game dates and game times on Sunday.

Clemson’s pool for next week’s ACC Baseball Championship has been set. The Tigers are the No. 2 seed. Clemson will be joined in Pool B by No. 7 Louisville and No. 11 Miami. The Tigers will play Miami in their first game. Clemson played both teams on the road this season and won two out of three in each series.

Clemson and Louisville ended their series a few weeks ago with fireworks. After the Tigers roared from behind to claim a series-opening win on Friday, the Cardinals did the same on Saturday. That game was marked by Louisville’s Dylan Hoy flipping his bat and taking his time circling the bases after a home run. The next day, as the Tigers run-ruled the Cardinals, Clemson’s Jimmy Obertop flipped his bat after a home run and was ejected and was forced to miss a game.

Clemson third baseman Blake Wright – who homered in Saturday’s win – said the Tigers want to keep the positive vibes from the sweep.

“We're just trying to gain momentum, trying to keep playing good baseball and take it into this tournament and then take it into the regional,” Wright said.

Head coach Erik Bakich wants his team to concentrate on playing good baseball after a rough stretch that saw the Tigers lose 10 out of 19 and the bullpen go through a stretch in which it gave up 46 runs in 41 innings.

“You just keep the target on playing well. I mean that's really what it's about,” Bakich said. “When we compete hard, play hard, have fun, and just kind of simplify, then good things happen. We don't have to play our best game to win the game, we just need to be consistently good and we've had some setbacks along the way, but we've been pretty consistent and that'll be really important. Just the confidence that they have and the belief that they have.

“We've got a lot of intangible skills with this group. I think the pitching has shown flashes. Certainly what we saw today is something that we can aspire to and achieve to. And I think that the sky's the limit for this team once we're clicking on all cylinders and I think we're going to see some really good pitching performances out of this team in the postseason.”

The ACC Tournament works on a pool play system. The 12 best finishers in the ACC regular season standings qualify for the tournament. The teams are sorted into four pools, with the top four teams each serving as a de facto “No. 1 seed” in their pool. Clemson is the No. 2 seed and, as we mentioned, is paired with No. 7 Louisville and No. 11 Miami.

The three teams in each pool will play each other in a round-robin style. After these three games, the team with the best record advances to the semifinals. Should the teams tie for the best record, the tiebreaker goes to the team with the higher seed, which places a heavy incentive on regular season performance.

The semifinals and final of the tournament are played in a basic single-elimination format. The winner of Pool A will play the winner of Pool D, and the winner of Pool B will play the winner of Pool C. The winners of the semifinals will play the conference championship the following day, with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Bakich is not the biggest fan of the format.

“No, not really. I like tournament play. I like where you just have to win in advance and it's like a true tournament,” he said. “But I see the value now in why the ACC does pool play, but honestly, I don't even care. We will play whoever you tell us to play, and we'll be excited to do it. So, it sets up maybe some strategy in how we structure the pitching staff, but it's a huge advantage when you're one of those top four seeds for sure. I guess I like pool play when you're one of the top four seeds.”

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