By Trey McCurry / Photo courtesy ClemsonTigers.com.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When Clemson’s baseball team arrived at Florida State’s Dick Howser Stadium on Wednesday night for an early evening practice, left fielder Reed Rohlman felt like there was something different about the trip.
“You could just tell there was something different about us,” he said following Clemson’s 9-6 victory over the eighth-ranked Seminoles on Saturday. “We were confident, we were relaxed and we kind of felt like all of this was going to happen.”
What happened was the Tigers did the unimaginable. They beat the Seminoles three straight times for the program’s first three-game series sweep in Tallahassee, Fla.
“They were a great challenge. They were 27-4, I think, before this series at home,” Rohlman said. “It is a great feeling, I must say, to end the regular season on this note.”
Clemson ends the regular season with seven victories in its last eight games and is will be the No. 5 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament, which begins on Tuesday in Durham, N. C. The Tigers will play a familiar foe in their first game – the same team they just swept. The Seminoles (37-19, 17-13 ACC) are the No. 4 seed in the tournament.
“We have to go up there and play well,” Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said. “They are a good baseball team. We caught them right. We played well. We outplayed them this weekend and now we have to go up there and they will have some thoughts about trying to get back at us.
“We will have something to play for so we are looking forward to that challenge again.”
The Tigers (31-25, 16-13 ACC) have been playing for a lot for a long time. Leggett’s job security has been speculated all season by fans and the media alike, while the team has been playing in what has seemed like an elimination game almost every night.
There was some wondering whether Clemson would even make it into the ACC Tournament after dropping two of three games to Louisville two weeks ago. The Tigers entered the FSU series needing at least one win to qualify for the postseason tournament and many felt they might not be able to get it done on the No. 8 team in the country’s home field.
But Matthew Crownover and Pat Krall pitched a gem on Thursday night in Game 1 and then Zack Erwin and Taylor Vetzel followed with an even more impressive victory on Friday. On Saturday, Rohlman—who had three doubles and three RBIs in Game 3—took over to complete the sweep.
“Don’t give up on these kids. They’ve worked hard all year long. They have battled,” Leggett said. “They have some grit to them and they’re tough. It is not easy to play down here and win down here. We always play pretty good, but it is tough to walk out of here with a W.
“To win three in a row, three on the weekend, we have not done that before and I’m not sure it has been done by anybody in a very long, long period of time. Our kids are playing better. They are playing a lot better baseball. In the last month and a half we have played pretty well.”
And now the Tigers, who have been maligned all year long by the fans and media, have just as good of an opportunity of winning the ACC Championship as any other team in the field. After the way they played this week in going 4-0 for the first time this season, there can be no argument few in the ACC are playing any better.
“We could not have done this at a better time. It does not matter what we did before now. We are living in the present and we are ready to play them in Durham,” Rohlman said. “This should be fun. We are playing good baseball right now.”