The Clemson baseball program will enter the ACC Baseball Tournament with hopes of winning and securing a bid in the NCAA Tournament. To do so, they must first win their pool. Let’s take a look at what Clemson faces in Pool A play.
The Clemson baseball team has come into a zone as of late after rallying to beat Furman in Greenville last Tuesday. The Tigers went on to sweep Florida State in Tallahassee, earning them the number-five seed in the ACC Tournament, which has begun as of today. After North Carolina beat Virginia Tech just a couple of hours ago, Pool A is complete for competition, which will resume tomorrow at 11 a.m. sharp. Your Tigers will face Florida State for the fourth straight time and hope to continue their winning ways against the ‘Noles. Clemson will then play number-one seed Louisville on Thursday before playing UNC on Friday. If the Tigers want to advance to the ACC Championship, it is almost imperative to go undefeated these next three days, or at the very least have a 2-1 record. So, this begs the question: Can Clemson Win Pool A?
The answer to that question is yes in a general sense because anything can happen in baseball, obviously, but Clemson actually has the talent to go deep into the Pool and come out winners. The Tigers must find a way to get out to early leads in each of these games and play solid defense like they did this previous weekend. If Clemson can continue to get good starts out of their guys and have solid pitching out of the bullpen, there is no reason to think the Tigers cannot win the entire tournament. Sadly, if Clemson cannot win their pool and advance to the ACC Championship, there is no guarantee Clemson will get a shot in the NCAA Tournament. Fortunately, they made their path a little easier by sweeping Florida State this weekend, but are still by no means a lock for Post-Season play.
The Tigers open up play tomorrow against Florida State and they will send Ace Matthew Crownover to the mound. Crownover, the ACC Pitcher of the Year, needs to bring his best game in order to defeat the Seminoles for a fourth-straight time. Florida State will bring everything they have to avoid being beaten once again and, if Clemson can survive this game, it would just fuel the confidence even more they have been playing with.
On Thursday, Clemson will play the number-one seeded Louisville. Clemson lost their regular season series to Louisville 2-1 and if Clemson wants to win this game, they will need to follow the pattern they had set in game one of the series earlier this year. The Tigers took game one behind some great pitching from Matthew Crownover and they got out to an early lead, 5-0 at the end of the third. Clemson left-handed pitcher Zach Erwin will be on the mound for the Tigers and has proven to be more than good enough to compete and win against the best of the best. Clemson will need him to go at least six innings, possibly seven to have a chance at the win. The Tigers will also be going up against Louisville’s Ace Kyle Funkhouser, which does not make things any easier.
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Clemson will conclude Pool A play on Friday when they play North Carolina. The Tigers defeated the Tarheels in early April when they took two out of three in Clemson. The one loss for Clemson came in game three, where the Tigers fell 8-7 to UNC. Clemson will need to, most likely, win two of three this week and will need to win all three to advance to the championship game.
The key two winning Pool A for the Tigers is simple: Take it one game at a time and play like each game is an elimination game. This team has played with great confidence the past week of the season and have proved they are worthy of post-season play. They can compete in this pool and, hopefully, we will see this team playing ball on Sunday in the ACC Championship Game.
What do you think, Clemson fans, do the Tigers have a chance at winning Pool A? Can Clemson beat Florida State and Louisville on back-to-back days?