DURHAM, N.C.- Clemson’s win over Miami gave the school its fourth ACC Championship this year.
Erik Bakich’s team now joins the football program, the men’s track and field program and the women’s golf team as program’s that have come away with conference championships this year.
Bakich was able to accomplish the feat in his first year leading the Tigers, joining former baseball coaches Bill Wilhelm, Jack Leggett and Monte Lee as head baseball coaches that won an ACC Championship in their first year with the school.
Even more impressive is the fact that in early April, with his team sitting at 16-13 overall and just 2-8 in league play, Bakich’s team was a postseason afterthought. What has happened since is a story for the ages.
Since a series-opening loss to Florida State on April 9, Clemson has went on an absolute tear, winning 27 of its past 31 games. The Tigers are currently riding a 16 game winning streak, the longest among Power-5 teams.
“Transitions are never easy,” Bakich said. “Coaches sometimes take the wrong stance of getting their own guys in there and players take the wrong stance of saying they didn’t sign up for this. And neither the coaches nor the players did that with this group. It was more of an embracing. This is our team and we’re going to help everybody get better and make the team better and contribute to this program’s history in the best way that we possibly can.”
Bakich spent a season as a volunteer assistant on Leggett’s staff back in 2002. He went on to have head coaching stints with Maryland and Michigan, leading the Wolverines to the College World Series championship game in 2019.
However, now that he is back in Clemson, Bakich feels like he is a part of something different. Something special. And it stretches beyond the baseball diamond. In fact, Bakich said it all starts with Dabo Swinney and what the Tigers’ football program has been able to accomplish over the past decade.
“It’s the best of the best,” Bakich said. “Graham Neff and his team have assembled some unbelievable coaches. And it all starts with with Dabo and his staff and just the bar that they set.”
“I was here 21 years ago and coming back, just blown away and amazed to see how much the school, the buildings, the town, the athletic facilities, everything has exploded because of the football success. And it’s kind of all connected. The entire athletic department raises that bar.
After having been back on campus for almost a full year, Bakich now has a full understanding of exactly what it is he is a part of, and the head coach is intent on having the success that the football program has experienced. And that means bringing the ever-elusive national title in baseball to Clemson.
“Everybody wants to hoist the big trophy at the end of the season,” he said. “To be able to do that twice like the football team has done, it just is something that we all strive to do as coaches. Being a part of an athletic powerhouse as a college coach, this is what you want. You want to be a part of excellence.”
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