Tigers are getting back to their winning ways

Tigers are getting back to their winning ways

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Tigers are getting back to their winning ways

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Monte Lee wanted his players to get back to their winning ways. His players obliged him.

Thirteenth-ranked Clemson completed its sweep of Wake Forest this weekend with an impressive 9-4 victory in Game 3 Sunday at David Couch Ballpark in Winston-Salem, N.C. It marked the first time the Tigers have swept the Demon Deacons on their home field since 2005 and the first time since 2016 Wake Forest lost a home series.

In fact, the Demon Deacons had won eight straight home series against ACC competition prior to playing Clemson this weekend.

“We needed to get back into our winning ways and we certainly played that way this weekend,” Lee said to The Clemson Insider after Sunday’s game. “I’m very proud of the way we played today and the way we played this weekend.”

The Tigers (29-11, 14-7 ACC) came into the weekend in a slump. They had lost four of their last five games, including two losses to No. 12 Georgia in midweek games. Miami even took 2 of 3 from them last week at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.

Wake Forest (18-23, 10-11 ACC), on the other hand, came in playing with a lot of confidence. The Demon Deacons were winners in five of their previous six contests, including a sweep of Boston College and a series win against Duke.

“Offensively, we were really good,” Lee said. “We drove the baseball and we got good counts to hit all day and we swung the bats very well.”

Clemson recorded 12 hits on Sunday, including four home runs from four different players. Chris Williams and Grayson Byrd had back-to-back jacks in the top of the fifth inning, while Kyle Wilkie and Drew Wharton hit solo home runs in the eighth.

Wilkie, who also hit a double to score Seth Beer with the game-winning run on Saturday, came up big again on Sunday with a double that drove in the game’s first two runs in the fourth inning. He finished the day 2-for-5 with a double, home run and 3 RBIs.

“Wilkie is one of those guys that even when he is not hitting, he will put together good at-bats,” Lee said. “He will give you competitive at-bats and we feel like, here lately, he has been swinging the bat very well and a lot of people don’t realize that he leads us in hitting in ACC play. In ACC games, Wilkie is our best hitter.

“Wilkie has been swinging the bat well.”

The sophomore also leads the Tigers in batting average with runners in scoring position. That caused Lee to move Wilkie up a couple of spots on Saturday from the eight hole to the six hole in the lineup because the six spot in the order has been driving in a lot of runs for them.

“That has been a big RBI spot for us, and he has come up big for us,” Lee said.

Wilkie said he was glad he was able to put some good swings on the baseball the last couple of days.

“I got into some good counts today. I was just trying to put my best swing on it,” he said. “It felt good in batting practice so I just carried it into the game.”

Clemson finished the weekend with 30 hits and scored 20 runs. The Tigers rallied from three runs down in Games 1 and 2 to win both games. Now, as they head into a 5-game week, which starts Tuesday against Kennesaw State at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, they are playing with confidence again and have gotten back to their winning ways.

“That was very important,” Wilkie said. “Every single ACC game matters and they’re a very good ballclub. They have a great team and a great pitching staff and good hitters. Anytime you can sweep a team it always feels good and helps in the standings, but it really gives us a confidence boost heading into this next stretch.”

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