Erik Bakich has his Clemson baseball team absolutely rolling.
Over the past six weeks, the Tigers have gone from postseason afterthoughts to a potential national seed.
Clemson has won nine straight, and 20 of the past 24 games. The Tigers have also won six consecutive ACC series, including seven straight against league competition.
Fresh off of a 12-2 run-rule win over USC Upstate, Clemson will now welcome North Carolina to town for a three game set that begins on Thursday night at 6 p.m. Despite all of the postseason chatter and the projections that currently have his team among the top eight seeds, Bakich prefers his team remain focused on the task at hand, and that is the series opener against the Tar Heels.
“You just can’t look ahead in this game,” Bakich said. “You learn the wrong lesson, because you get caught, you get burned if you do. You just got to be able to play one game, one pitch at a time and it takes a lot of discipline in order to do that. It’s much easier said than done, obviously.”
“The league standings and the weight of the conference is valued more heavily at this point of the season, so it would have been very easy to have a letdown (Tuesday). But that’s a credit to our team. They just would not allow that to happen. And at this point of the year does it’s not necessarily about me harping on it. They have to be able to take ownership of the team and that’s what they’re doing. And it’s it’s fun to watch.”
• Who – North Carolina (33-18, 14-11 ACC) vs. Clemson (36-17, 17-10 ACC)
• When – Thursday (6 p.m.), Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (1 p.m.)
• Where – Clemson, S.C. (Doug Kingsmore Stadium)
• Watch – ACC Network Extra (Thursday, Friday), ACC Network (Saturday)
The Tigers are also looking to lock up one of the top four seeds in next weeks ACC Tournament. With the pod system the league employs in the conference tournament, being one of those top seeds gives a team a distinct advantage.
North Carolina also comes in still alive for one of those top four spots, as the winner of the Coastal will automatically lock up the second seed. While the Heels would most likely need a sweep, as well as some help, it’s still possible, meaning there will be a lot on the line for both of these baseball teams this weekend.
• Thursday – RHP Max Carlson (UNC) vs. LHP Ethan Darden (CU)
• Friday – RHP Jake Knapp (UNC) vs. RHP Austin Gordon (CU)
• Saturday – TBA (UNC) vs. LHP Caden Grice (CU)
Clemson comes in sitting at No. 8 in the RPI, while North Carolina is No. 25. With so much on the line, Bakich is hopeful this final regular season ACC series will bring with it a postseason-like atmosphere.
“This is why you come to Clemson,” Bakich said. “You want to see Doug Kingsmore packed, you want to have it loud and hostile. Not just packed, but loud and have people get out of their seats and yell, cheer and wave whatever handouts the marketing team has for that day.”
“I know our players thrive on it. Every time we’ve had a great crowd and a loud crowd, they talk about it in the dugout, talk about it in (the facility). It’s a big deal, and we certainly appreciate it when when people show up and not only show up but get loud.”
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