What a difference a month makes.
On April 2, Erik Bakich’s Clemson baseball team had just been swept at home by Wake Forest to fall to 2-6 in ACC play, and while some might have left the Tigers for dead, the first year head coach insisted his team was far from done.
“I 100-percent believe that with every fiber in my body that we are going to get hot and go on a run. No doubt,” Bakich said when asked if he thought the Tigers could still make a regional after the slow start.
“I sit here, and it’s not coach-speak, 100-percent, honest to God, say this team is going to turn the corner. And when we do, it’ll be because of their toughness and because of their grit. And it’s going to be hard to stop us.”
Fast forward one month later, and that is exactly how things have played out. Clemson has gone 11-4 since being swept by the Demon Deacons and have won four consecutive ACC series. Three of those series wins came on the road, including a sweep at NC State and most recently, taking two out of three at No. 11 Boston College.
“Great team win,” Bakich said. “Proud of the way our guys fought, really showed some toughness. That’s a very good opponent in Boston College. As tough as a team as we’ve seen all year in the way they battle, the way they compete. So we knew we had a big challenge ahead of us this weekend.”
The Tigers now sit at 28-17 overall, 11-10 in ACC play and are currently 12th in the RPI. Clemson has now almost assuredly locked up a spot in regional play and just might be playing their way into the discussion when it comes to hosting. And they have done it playing one of the most difficult schedules in the country. Only Georgia and Kentucky have played tougher slates.
The Tigers are 20-13 against teams ranked in the Top 100 of the RPI and 12-12 against teams inside the Top 50. With Louisville coming to town for a three-game series this weekend, Clemson will have another shot at bolstering its case to host, as the Cardinals are currently No. 38.
Bakich’s team also has a road game remaining against Coastal Carolina, who is currently 7th. The Tigers run-ruled the Chanticleers last month at home. After that, it’s back on the road to Virginia Tech, and then they finish up the regular season by hosting North Carolina at home. With the Hokies sitting at No. 51 and the Tar Heels at No. 38, that means 10 of Clemson’s final 11 games could come against Quad 1 competition. If the next month is anything like this last one, you can fully expect to see an NCAA regional returning to Doug Kingsmore for the first time since 2018.
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