Road to Omaha Goes Through Clemson

CLEMSON — Riley Bertram has played in big games a lot in his college baseball career.

Clemson’s second baseman has played in Regionals, Super Regionals and in Omaha. He was a part of a Michigan team that advanced to the Championship Series of the College World Series in 2019.

However, despite playing in those big games and playing in front of those large crowds, he says he gets chills when he thinks about how this weekend’s atmosphere at Doug Kingsmore Stadium is going to be like when the No. 4 national seed Tigers play in the NCAA’s Clemson Regional.

“I think it is going to be different. I think Clemson University does it different,” he said Thursday as Clemson gets set to host Lipscomb today at 1 p.m. in Game 1 of the Clemson Regional. “I think, from what I have seen and from what I have heard, DKS is going to be full tomorrow. I get chills saying that and I think it is going to be awesome.”

Clemson head coach Erik Bakich remembers all too well what Doug Kingsmore Stadium can be like when it is packed out and the Clemson faithful gets into the game. He was a graduate assistant at Clemson in 2002 when the Tigers packed out the place on their way to one of the program’s 12 CWS runs.

“That is how it used to be. That’s how it was twenty-one years ago. That’s how it was as an opposing coach here at Maryland in 2011. And that’s how it has been the last couple of home weekends,” Bakich said. “The fans have really shown out and come out in full sport. They get those balloons waving behind home plate, the music is playing, the marketing team is doing an awesome job engaging with the action on the field and the fans have gotten behind that.”

That’s part of the reason why the Tigers (43-17) have been so tough to beat at home. Clemson posted a 24-10 record at Doug Kingsmore this season, but has won eight straight and 10 of their last 11 at home.

“There were a couple of games early where you really could not hear the energy in the stadium or feel it,” Bakich said. “Lately, especially as the team has started to energize the crowd and the crowd has started to energize the team, so I think there can be awesome synergy between DKS and the on-field play.

“I just want the fans to take ownership of their roster spot on this team as the tenth man. We need it. I am excited to see them come out in full force this weekend and bring the noise and bring the energy and positively impact our play.”

Bertram feels this weekend is the reason why they got up early in the off-season and lifted weights. This is why they put in all those late nights in the fall. All of it was to get to this point and have the opportunity to play in front their home crowd in the postseason.

“I am happy for the team, happy for the guys,” Bertram said. “They deserve every part of it. It is going to be heck having that tenth guy out there. I am pumped. I am ready for it. I know the guys are dying to get to tomorrow.

“Winning is rewarding. It is a real thing,” he continued. “But it was cool to see all the hard work that the team put in throughout the fall. The early mornings, the lifts, the late nights. It would have been really disappointing to not see success on the field after all that hard work. So, to see the turnaround and to see all that, I know Coach Bakich, I don’t know how, but he mentioned he saw it coming. I am super happy that it did as well.”


• Who – Lipscomb (36-24) vs. Clemson (43-17)
• Best Ranking – LIP – NR; CU – No. 3 Collegiate Baseball, D1Baseball
• When – Friday (1 p.m.)
• Where – Clemson, S.C. (Doug Kingsmore Stadium)
• Watch – ESPN+
• Video Announcers – Tom Hart, Kyle Peterson
• Listen (Radio) – Clemson Athletic Network (locally on WCCP (105.5 FM))
• Listen (Internet) –


• Overall Record – 0-0



  • Clemson, who has a 24-10 home record, won the ACC Tournament title with a 4-0 record st week.
  • The Tigers are averaging 7.5 runs per game and hitting .308 with a .470 slugging percentage, .403 on-base percentage and 97 steals.
  • The pitching staff has a 4.33 ERA, .250 opponents’ batting average and 2.37 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and Clemson is fielding .978.


  • Lipscomb, who has a 14-15 road record and is averaging 6.8 runs per game, is led by 17th-year Head Coach Jeff Forehand.
  • The Bisons won the ASUN Conference Tourney title with a 3-2 record. They are hitting .257 and have a 5.06 ERA and .969 fielding percentage.
  • Trace Willhoite is hitting .311 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs, Austin Kelly is batting .302 with 21 homers and Hayden Frank has four saves.



–photo courtesy of ACC Communications


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