Clemson feels they can still turn it around
DURHAM, N.C. — When he looks back at the second half of the baseball season, Clemson senior Grayson Byrd goes back to the Duke series as the weekend when the Tigers’ confidence might have been shaken.
Though the Tigers were swept by Florida State the week before, Byrd felt his team was still okay. The Seminoles humbled Clemson and were clearly the better team that weekend. Though they did not like losing, losing the series to FSU was easier to accept.
The same can’t be said about losing to the Blue Devils. For the first time since 1906, Duke swept Clemson in a three-game series. Duke won two of those games by one run and the other by two. The Tigers had a chance to win all three games.
“It kind of started there, but at the same time I do not like to look at one specific game or specific series where we started not playing as well,” Byrd said before the start of Wednesday’s practice at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina. “Things did not really go our way. Part of it when you go on a nine-game losing streak, part of it is losing and part of it is not going our way.
“I kind of point back to that Duke series, but I do not think it was where we lost that Duke series and then everyone was like pouting and the wheels fell off. It kind of escalated from there.”
Clemson went on to lose two more games during its season-long eight-game losing streak and two more ACC games during a program tying nine-game conference losing streak.
The Tigers (33-24) posted an 11-17 record in the second half of the season and are 4-12 in ACC games during that same stretch, including Tuesday’s loss to Boston College in the first game of the ACC Baseball Championship here in Durham.
“I feel like a lot of the games we have lost this year have been games where we just kind of found a way to lose somehow,” Byrd said. “I don’t doubt this team. I think we have good chemistry and I think we have faith in each other. But I think it is just trying to get that big hit or that big strikeout or picking up a teammate. Things like that. They seem like little things, but ultimately they cost you games in the end.”
Clemson needs to find a way to turn things around and do it quickly. The Tigers are in a must-win scenario heading into Thursday’s game against Louisville. A win and they are probably in, but a loss and more than likely their season will end here in Durham.
As he looks back at the season, which he admits he does often, head coach Monte Lee says there are things he knows he would have done different.
“My approach in the second half of the year is to try to point out the things we have done really well,” he said. “To try and keep them positive and keep them in the good spirits. I think that is the best approach.
“I tried my best to make sure that they move on after some tough losses and we have had a number of tough losses, but for whatever reason, I have not done a good enough job. It always starts with me. I understand that. You always look at things. What could I have done better? What could I have done differently? From a personnel standpoint. From a practice standpoint. From a message standpoint and all of those things. It always starts with me and ends with me.”
But Clemson does not want it to end Thursday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Byrd has faith that it will not.
“I have always had faith in this team and every guy that goes on that mound and every guy that steps in that box,” he said. “I don’t think there was a loss of confidence there. I guess y’all from the outside can see that and could probably tell me better, but from the inside, I feel like we showed up every day with positive energy and ready to compete.”