Bakich Expects Tigers to ‘Empty Tank’ In Series Finale Against UCF

Erik Bakich Jason Priester All Clemson

CLEMSON, S.C.- In losing the first two of a three game weekend series to UCF, Erik Bakich readily admits that his Clemson Baseball team has not played up to the standard.

In Saturday’s 10-7 loss, the Tigers committed three errors, while the pitchers issued nine free passes, including four hit batsmen. While the first-year head coach was, no doubt, disappointed with the loss, it was more about how his team lost.

“We just have very high expectations for the program, for the team, for the standards of our program,” Bakich said. “When we play below those and don’t execute, that’s what’s disappointing. We can all handle a loss if we play well, because we know if we play well, we’re not going to have many losses. That’s just the expectations. That we’re going to play well and win. That’s Clemson baseball. So it’s disappointing to lose the series, regardless. I don’t care if it’s in a series against UCF in February or we’re playing checkers, you don’t want to lose anything. So we will bounce back tomorrow. We will be fine.”

After winning the first four games of the season, Clemson has now dropped two straight, and Bakich is pretty confident that he will get a much better performance from the Tigers in the series finale.

“Whatever response we’re going to have, if it’s anything like I think and the coaches think this team will have, they’ll come out and absolutely empty the tank tomorrow,” Bakich said. “We will play a much better brand of baseball tomorrow in response to how poorly we played these last two games. Because these last two games are not indicative of the potential of our team, and that’s ultimately all you want.”

However, if his team is to salvage the final game of the weekend series, they will have to do so with a bullpen that is currently a little shorthanded. While Bakich wouldn’t go into detail about who is banged up and how long they might be out, he did say some of his relievers are being asked to do a little more than they otherwise would be. At the same time, that is something he thinks will serve his team well over the course of the season.

“We have been a little bit of a MASH unit in the bullpen with just some nicks and bruises and dings, and you can tell by who hasn’t pitched, who’s out,” Bakich said. “We are asking guys to pitch on maybe back to back days, or maybe in different roles than maybe what we thought, but that’s good. That’s all going to callus their mind and and train them for opportunities that may arise later in the season.”

Shorthanded or not, that doesn’t change Bakich’s expectations for the Tigers. He came to Clemson to compete for championships, and that is still the goal, first season, or not.

“As a coach, as a program, as a team, we just want to play well,” Bakich said. “That’s what championship teams do. They consistently play well. So to have a dip like this is going to happen. It happens to great teams. But it can’t be something that we sustain. We’ve got to be able to bounce back. We’ve got to be able to get back to the center, we have to be able to find neutral again and you got to be able to execute and play well tomorrow.”

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