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Clemson’s baseball team eats pressure like its candy

We have seen this act before. In fact, we have seen it a lot this year from the Clemson baseball team.

Eight times this season, the fourth-ranked Tigers have rallied to win a game. The latest came on Tuesday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium when Clemson came back from a four-run deficit to beat Charleston Southern, 6-5, in 11 innings.

“Again as a coach, I don’t know if you can be more proud of team,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said afterward. “I don’t know if there is more I can say than that. What else can I ask for? We just seem to find a way. We are down by four runs and we just keep finding a way to get it done.”

Finding ways to get it done is becoming the calling card for this year’s baseball team. Not only have the Tigers rallied from behind to win eight times this year, but they are now 7-0 in one-run games. They also have a 5-3 victory over rival South Carolina in Columbia back on March 5 that came in 11 innings.

In each case, the Tigers find a way to win it in different ways, and in each case it always seems to be someone else stepping up and getting the key hit, making the right pitch or making a great defensive stop.

Against Charleston Southern, it was Andrew Cox who made the play as his one-out smack down the right field line in the bottom of the 11th inning drove home Reed Rohlman with the game-winning run. Earlier in the game, freshman Logan Davidson hit a three-run bomb to left field that ignited the Tigers’ comeback. Clemson has also gotten big hits or game-winning hits at times this year from Chase Pinder, Rohlman, Jordan Greene, Chris Williams, Robert Jolly, Grayson Byrd and Patrick Cromwell and of course Seth Beer.

“The worst thing that a baseball team or a group of young men can do is when they are behind is feel the pressure … try to do too much,” Lee said. “When the heart rate starts to get higher when you are down, you start to feel that anxiety, that pressure. You kind have to take a step back.

“Hopefully, they listen to my message to them all the time, which is ‘Embrace the pressure. We eat pressure like candy.’ That is what I tell them. We are going to embrace pressure and enjoy those moments. At the end of the day, it is baseball. At the end of the day you have to compete. The bottom line is you have to compete so that is all I told them … that I believe in them.”

Lee’s belief in his team is one reason why the Tigers are off to their best start since the 2002 season at 29-5. Since losing the opening weekend series to Wright State, Clemson is 28-3. Its 13-2 start in the ACC is the best for the program in conference play since the 1995 team opened the year at 14-1 in the ACC.

“I know they believe in themselves,” Lee said. “We have to slow the game down … I just try to tell them to slow the game down, relax, put together some good at-bats and someone is going to step up and we are going to find a way to get it done.

“We just have to embrace the pressure. You want to be the guy with runners on base. You have to believe that you are the guy that is going to get done.”

Right now, the Tigers are getting it done in all kinds of different ways.

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