New Era Set to Begin for Clemson Baseball

Erik Bakich Jason Priester All Clemson

When the college baseball season gets underway on Friday, a new era will begin for the Clemson Tigers.

Erik Bakich takes over a program that has failed to make an NCAA Regional in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1980s. However, despite the Tigers lack of postseason appearances the past couple of seasons, Bakich enters his first season with the highest of expectations.

“I think the College World Series is the standard for Clemson Baseball,” Bakich said. “We shouldn’t deviate from that even though we haven’t been since (2010). Clemson Baseball still Clemson Baseball. It’s a blueblood. We’re working very hard to restore Clemson baseball to its rightful place on top of college baseball.”

With Opening Day just days away, All Clemson takes a look at some of the things we might see when the Tigers take the field for the first time on Friday.

Starting Rotation

Bakich is still playing things fairly close to the vest when it comes to the starting rotation. The head coach did all but confirm that former closer Ryan Ammons will begin the season as the Friday starter, but beyond that, Bakich was non-committal, only saying that there were as many as seven players under consideration.

Jay Dill, Caden Grice, Billy Barlow, Casey Tallent and Austin Gordon have all been mentioned by Bakich in the past as pitchers that could possibly start, as has freshman Tristan Smith. Although, Bakich has now all but ruled out the highly-touted freshman beginning the season as part of the rotation.

“A guy like Tristan Smith could start from the physical ability standpoint, but philosophically, I’ve just never really put a freshman into that role on the opening weekend,” Bakich said. “We didn’t do that with (former MLB All-Star) David Price at Vanderbilt, but if you were to say to me Tristan Smith is going to be a weekend starter by the end of the year or the middle of the year, yeah, I could see that.”


While Bakich has yet to confirm anything, it’s been widely assumed that transfer Willie Weiss will fill the closers role for the Tigers in 2023. Over the past three seasons at Michigan, Weiss posted an ERA of 3.57 with 17 saves. The hard-throwing lefty struck out 127 hitters in 100.2 IP, with opponents batting just .196 against him.


One thing this Clemson team doesn’t lack is depth, something that should prove to be invaluable throughout the season. Similar to the starting rotation, nothing is set in stone, regarding who will start where in the infield. Caden Grice looks to be set to move back to first base after spending a majority of his time in right field a season ago. Veteran shortstop Riley Bertram, who is another transfer from Michigan, is expected to play the same position for the Tigers, possibly moving Benjamin Blackwell over to second, with Blake Wright once again manning third base.

Freshman Cam Cannarella has seen plenty of time at third during the preseason scrimmages, and could be in line to play a vital role as a reserve.


Cooper Ingle returns after leading the team with a .351 batting average last season. He also added eight home runs with 44 RBI. However, coming off of injury, Ingle could be brought along slowly to begin the season, meaning freshman Jacob Jarrell could see some time behind the plate early, with Ingle getting some at bats as DH.

“Cooper is still coming back from the arm,” Bakich said. “And I’d say, there are days where he’s 100%, looks awesome and looks amazing. Looks dynamic. But I don’t envision that he’s going to be able to catch every single game back there and there’s gonna be plenty of days where he needs somebody to step in and give them a break.”

“Luckily we have Jacob Jarrell, who’s a very good freshman player, that has come in and really, really developed and he’s done a very nice job with the pitching staff. As a receiver, thrower, he’s got to pop in his bat, so you’re gonna see Jacob Jarrell in there a lot. Obviously, Cooper’s an elite hitter, has some of the best bat to ball skills of anyone in college baseball. But he’s not going to be able to catch every single game, at least early on.”


After missing all but the final 13 games as a freshman due to a knee injury, Will Taylor is expected to take over in centerfield, and the two-sport standout is primed for a breakout season. Freshman Nathan Hall is also an option when, and if, Taylor needs a day off.

When it comes to the corner outfield spots, Bakich will have several options. Tyler Corbitt has seen plenty of time in leftfield during the scrimmages, with Chad Fairey and freshman Jack Crighton working in right. Tristan Bisetta and freshman Leighton Lackey could also be options in reserve roles.

Clemson is set to open the season on Friday, as the Tigers will welcome Binghamton to town for a three game weekend series. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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