Tigers need to keep winning if they want to keep playing

Tigers need to keep winning if they want to keep playing

Baseball

Tigers need to keep winning if they want to keep playing

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Clemson opens ACC Baseball Championship against Boston College

DURHAM, N.C. — Win and you’re in. It is that simple. The only thing is it is not that simple.

The Clemson baseball team must win today in its ACC Baseball Championship opener if it wants to earn an 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid next Monday. And, for good measure, it will need to win on Thursday against top-seed Louisville as well.

The Tigers, the No. 8 seed, open the ACC Baseball Championship this morning, 11 a.m., against No. 12 seed Boston College.

“I think we are good,” senior Grayson Byrd said. “Honestly, you never know how it is going to work out. We are definitely not going into the ACC Tournament relaxed. We are going in there to win ballgames. We are going in there to compete on every pitch and we are going in there to enjoy it.”

Clemson (33-23, 15-15 ACC) comes into today’s game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina listed as one of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament Field by DI Baseball and Baseball America. With an RPI of 36, the Tigers have very little room for error.

Any kind of stumble this week and Clemson’s season could be over. The baseball program at Clemson had not missed the NCAA Tournament since 2008, the only year since 1987 it was not in the NCAA Tournament field.

“It is definitely something that I actually think about a little bit, but it is not going to cause any extra pressure on us or cause us to think we got to go win this game and it is a must-win game. We are going to go out there and compete.”

Clemson head coach Monte Lee thinks the Tigers are in pretty good shape to get into the NCAA Tournament.

“When you look at our resume, just based on our league, we are in pretty good shape,” he said. “We are behind, obviously, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina and Georgia Tech. I think our RPI is pretty strong … I think we are. I have talked to some folks and have looked at it. I think right now, where we sit, I think we are in.

“But anything can happen. The bottom line is we need to go into the ACC Tournament, and we need to play well. We need to try to better our resume via the ACC Tournament.”

The ACC is guaranteed to earn at least five bids to the NCAA Tournament. Louisville, who won the regular season conference championship, Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State and North Carolina are all locks to get in the tournament. Clemson, Duke, Florida State and Virginia appear to be in heading into conference tournament play, but they could all play their way out of the NCAA Tournament field with bad performances at the ACC Baseball Championship.

“They have to go out there and do it,” Lee said. “The bottom line is we are fifty-six games into the season and guys have to step up and play their best baseball this time of the year. If we do that, then we give ourselves a chance.”

After starting the season 22-6 in the first half of the season, junior Logan Davidson feels it’s odd to see themselves in this position heading into the ACC Tournament. Clemson finished the second half of the season just 11-17, which has put them on the proverbial bubble.

In his first two years in Tigertown, Clemson came into the ACC Tournament with an at-large bid already in hand.

“It’s definitely different, for sure,” he said. “The last two years you were on the brink (of something special), you would say versus automatically knowing there are four teams in here trying to take something from you. So, it is definitely a little different playing for something at the end of the year like that.”

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