CLEMSON- There might not be a hotter team in college baseball at the moment than Erik Bakich’s Clemson Tigers.
After getting off to a 2-8 start in ACC play, Bakich’s team had become a postseason afterthought to many. At least those on the outside looking in. However, inside of that dugout, no one stopped believing, something infielder Blake Wright credits to the Tigers impressive turnaround.
“We believe, that’s the biggest thing,” Wright said. “We’re all bought into the approach and what our coaches have to say, day in and day out. We just believe in each other.”
After the 14-7 series opening win over North Carolina on Thursday, the Tigers have now won ten straight overall and eight consecutive games against ACC competition. One more win over the Tar Heels over the next two days would also give the program seven straight ACC series wins. Since losing the opening game of its ACC series against Florida State on April 6, Clemson has gone an eye-opening 21-4.
“I don’t want to say we haven’t done anything, because what we have accomplished is establish a belief system that we can do something special, even though there’s a whole lot of season left,” Bakich said. “So we haven’t done anything in terms of that. But the belief system that these guys have right now and the confidence they have compared to where we were a couple of months ago, that’s an achievement in itself.”
“They need to stay mentally free. And they need to play with this like house money. And that’s a big separator.”
The hot streak looks to have the Tigers locked into NCAA regional play for the first time since 2019. In fact, multiple projections have Clemson as not only hosting, but as one of the top eight seeds, something that has not happened since 2016.
“Everybody now knows we have a good team because they’ve seen it,” Bakich said. “For them, seeing is believing. But for us, believing is seeing. We had to have the belief system first in order to do it.”
Clemson is without question a storied baseball program. While the school has yet to win a national title, the Tigers have appeared in the College World Series twelve times.
However, in recent seasons, the history hasn’t been so rich. The last time Clemson won a regional was way back in 2010, which coincidentally is also the last time the team made a run to Omaha.
Whether or not this year’s team can break the postseason drought and get out of a regional for the first time in thirteen years remains to be seen. Although Bakich nor his players are spending much time thinking about it or looking at projections.
For this team, it’s all about living in the moment. It’s about the next game. That is as far as the Tigers want to look ahead. No one is talking about regionals. No one is even talking about being a top four seed in the ACC Tournament next week.
That has been the approach all along, and it is one that has served this team well over the past six weeks. And if Bakich’s players continue to employ that mindset down the stretch, just maybe it can result in something special.
“I’m very proud of just where they were and where we are now,” Bakich said. “But with that being said, this is no time to pick our head up and think about the standings next week and are we gonna do this or are we gonna do that. It’s just the more we can keep our head down and just stay locked in on competing day to day, the better we’re gonna get. All that other stuff will take care of itself.”
“This team is capable of whatever they want to do. There’s no reason why this team can’t compete to be the last team standing. It’s just going to have to be reduced down to the moment, the pitch and the game and whatever we’re doing right now is the most important thing. And they’ve been really good about being able to stay centered on that and not look ahead or think too far ahead. I know everybody talks about it, looks at it, but these guys have done a really good job of, even if they have looked at it, bringing it back to the middle and just knowing what’s important right now.”
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