This week is the unofficial “bye week” for Clemson Tigers Baseball. The Tigers stand at a respectable 28-17 overall and 11-10 in the ACC. It’s a stark contrast to just 4 short weeks ago when the Tigers were a paltry 2-7 in league play and were struggling at both sides of the plate. Now the boys of Doug Kingsmore not only look to be in NCAA tournament contention, but potentially a regional host if they are able to continue their winning ways. Some might say they are all the way back.
Where are the Bakich critics when you need them?
Turns out the transformation from pariah to prophet only takes 4 weeks, 4 series wins, and a couple of mid-week wins over the likes of Georgia and Coastal Carolina. The entirety of Clemson fandom has been in a funk for a while now, so when Eric Bakich ardently predicted a turnaround for the season in the midst of a rough March, the natural and predictable reaction was ire and eyerolls from the peanut gallery.
Turns out that the guy who took a Big Ten team to within a game of winning a national title is, indeed, a good coach.
Clemson isn’t perfect by any means. I don’t think even this coaching staff would say that the current lineup is perfection, but you get a glimpse of what a Bakich-coached team can do.
They might not be a bunch of “gorilla ball” home run mashers, but they aren’t just messing around in small ball either. The line up has slowly but surely evolved into 7 to 9 guys who are the most frustrating to collect outs on. They are able to get the pitcher uncomfortable and see what happens next.
Pitching, and most notably the bullpen, was the gaping hole in a sinking ship 28 days ago. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the as season has progressed, several guys have stepped up to fill in where needed. Ryan Ammons’ recovery and reinsertion as a closer could not have come at a better time. Pair it with Caden Grice, who seems to be blossoming into the two headed animal everyone thought he had the potential to be, and the Clemson bullpen is showing signs of life.
This week is huge, as is the subsequent rest of the season. Clemson appears to be catching fire while it’s 3 remaining ACC series opponents are, at best, playing more sporadically. The main goal is to find a way to win the series. But if Clemson can potentially sweep a couple of these teams and collect a midweek win in Myrtle Beach next week, the Tigers could be the hottest baseball team in America heading into the ACC tournament.
It’s a sight for sore eyes for the Clemson faithful and something we haven’t truly seen in a while (or maybe ever): A white hot Tiger baseball team in the postseason.