Live and Die By the Sword: Clemson Playing With An Edge, Right On the Edge

CLEMSON- Erik Bakich wants his team to be aggressive on the base paths. Even if that means his players might run into some outs at times.

The speed in the Clemson lineup has routinely been on display this season. At times, singles have been extended into doubles and doubles into triples. With 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Tigers have stolen 66 bases after swiping just 32 all of last year.

That aggressiveness has also cost Bakich’s team at times this season. Two weeks ago, with Clemson down a run to Georgia in the bottom of the ninth, Cam Cannarella hit a two out single putting the tying run aboard. He was then gunned down at the plate as he attempted to score from first on a double by Cooper Ingle down the right-field line. The play wasn’t even close as the throw beat Cannarella by a couple of steps.

Bakich stood by the decision.

“Absolutely, 100%, the right thing to do to go for it there and try to score from first,” Bakich said at the time. “With two outs, you’ve got to take your shot there to tie it.”

In Friday’s 6-3 win over Louisville, the Tigers ran into three more outs on the bases, two of those coming at the plate.

However, the positives from being so aggressive this season have far outweighed the negatives, according to Bakich. Even if he would prefer not to have it happen three times in one game.

“It has. We live and die by the sword,” the head coach said Saturday “We’re going to be aggressive and one of our calling cards of being aggressive is that we have to be willing to run into outs sometimes and that’s what we did today. Ran into three outs on the bases, and unfortunately, too many.”

In the fifth inning of Friday’s win, Benjamin Blackwell was thrown out at home plate when Cannarella hit a fielder’s choice to second base. Blackwell was going on contact. Cannarella was later caught off third base after he slipped rounding the bag after an infield single by Will Taylor.

In the sixth inning, Riley Bertram avoided the tag of Louisville catcher Ryan McCoy on a wild pitch that bounced out in front of the plate. However, replay overturned the play, as it was determined McCoy did in fact make the tag.

“With a guy who’s fast at third and the infield in, one out, we’re always going to be on go there… or most of the time we’re going to be on go,” Bakich said. “It’s an aggressive play. Make the defense make the play and credit to Louisville. They fielded a nice backhand ball, threw a strike to the plate and we were out. But we’re gonna be aggressive. Bertram, his was an aggressive play and the ball bounced and went right back to the catcher and it was bang-bang and just one of those things.”

Bakich maintains that for his team to be at its best, the Tigers need to be aggressive on the base paths. It is a philosophy that has worked well, particularly over the past few weeks, as Clemson has won 12 of its past 16 games and four consecutive ACC series after starting 2-7 in league play.

“I don’t mind aggressive plays and aggressive mistakes for that matter,” Bakich said. “We want our guys to go for it. We kind of have that screw it mentality. If we’re going to be the team that we want to be, then we have to go for it. So I do like that we are playing with an edge, right on the edge.”

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