DURHAM, N.C. — To say the previous two baseball seasons at Clemson were tough is an understatement.
In 2021, the Tigers suffered through the program’s first losing season since 1957. After a great start in 2022, they weren’t consistent enough down the stretch and failed to make the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year.
Then they had to go through a coaching change, as Athletic Director Graham Neff let Monte Lee go after seven years on the job and brought in former Michigan head coach Erik Bakich.
Things did not start off well this season, either. Clemson was just 16-14 after 30 games and 2-8 in the ACC. At the time, it appeared the program was headed towards another difficult year.
But then something started to click. Beginning with the Tigers’ 16-6 victory over Coastal Carolina on April 4, they have won 26 of their last 30 games. They’ve won 20 of their last 21 games and 15 straight games overall, including Saturday’s 10-4 win over North Carolina in the ACC Baseball Championship Semifinals.
“This is something we have expected. We knew we were cable of this,” pitcher/first baseman Caden Grice said. “We just like to come out and play ball.”
The Tigers (42-17) have played baseball better than anyone over the last six weeks of the season. Sunday, at high noon, they will play against the Miami Hurricanes. Miami got to the championship game thanks to its 7-2 win over top-seeded Wake Forest on Saturday.
Like Clemson, the Hurricanes are 3-0 in the ACC Championships this year. They have won five straight coming into Sunday’s title game.
But no one is surprised to see Miami in the championship game. It was expected. However, that is not the case for Clemson, a team who came out of nowhere and dominated conference play in the second half of the season.
“It is really exciting,” Grice said. “I know all the guys on the team are excited to finally get that shot. We are nowhere close to being done and we are going to keep going it with it.”
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