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Tigers have to be aggressive on defense

This weekend’s series with No. 2 Louisville does not get any bigger for seventh-ranked Clemson.

The Tigers, who are sitting on the bubble when it comes to being a possible national seed, need a series victory over the Cardinals to stay in the conversation. They also could use a series-win to stay in the top four of the ACC standings.

Right now Clemson has just a one-game lead over Wake Forest and a two-game lead over Virginia for the third overall seed in the ACC Tournament, which will be later this month in Louisville, Ky.

In other words, this is a huge weekend.

“The big key for us is just playing good baseball,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “I think just looking over the last 10 games … we have to find a way to eliminate the big inning. That is really it.”

Lee says the Tigers (37-12, 16-8 ACC) are swinging the bats well and are getting good enough pitching from starters Charlie Barnes, Alex Eubanks and Pat Krall to win. However, he says the defense has been inconsistent and it is allowing their opponents to put up big innings.

“That crooked number that has been popping up on the scoreboard over the last few games, that is the thing we have to work extremely hard on,” the Clemson coach said. “Just pounding the strike zone and making the routine play. That is going to be our big emphasis over the next few days. We have to play defense with conviction and be aggressive on defense.”

Clemson had a couple of errors on defense against Furman on Tuesday that allowed the Paladins to score five runs.

“Anytime you are a little passive, a little apprehensive, worried about making mistakes is when you make them,” Lee said. “So we have to be as aggressive as we are at the plate and as aggressive as we are on the mound. We have to bring the same type of intensity on defense. That is going to be the big key for us.

“If we play good defense with our veteran starting pitching then we give ourselves a chance against anyone in the country and we can play deep into this season.”

Clemson will host Louisville in Game 1 of the three-game series on Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

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