Clemson makes NCAA Baseball Tournament for 11th straight year
After a month of wondering if Clemson would continue its streak of making the NCAA Baseball Tournament, it found out it has indeed earned an 11th straight appearance in the field of 64.
Though the Tigers are in, they cut it close after going 34-24 in the regular season. Clemson was one of the last four teams selected for the field and will play in the Oxford Regional at Ole Miss.
Ole Miss is the No. 1 seed in the Oxford (Miss.) Regional and the No. 12 overall seed. The Rebels will play Jacksonville State, the No. 4 seed. The Tigers, the No. 3 seed, will play Illinois, the No. 2 seed in the Oxford Regional.
The Illinois game will be a 4 p.m. start Friday on ESPNU. It will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2000, when the Tigers beat Illinois, 9-3, in an NCAA Regional in Clemson. The series is tied all-time at 3-3.
The winner of the Oxford Regional will play the winner of the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional. Arkansas is the No. 5 overall seed in the tournament.
Clemson has not played Ole Miss since 1984, when it swept the Rebels in Oxford. Mississippi leads the all-time series, 8-7.
The Tigers have never played Jacksonville State.
Clemson’s selection to the field, marks its 32nd appearance in the NCAA Baseball Tournament in the last 33 years. The Tigers have not missed the tournament since 2008, the only year since 1987 they failed to make it to the Big Dance.
Clemson has now appeared in 44 NCAA Tournaments overall, which ranks fifth nationally. The Tigers have advanced to the College World Series 12 times, which ranks 11th all-time, tied with Florida.
This will be the Tigers’ fourth straight year in the tournament under head coach Monte Lee. Clemson hosted the previous three years.
Lee’s Clemson teams are 7-6 in the NCAA Tournament and have advanced to the championship round of the regional in each of his first three years.
The Tigers have not advanced to the Super Regional Round of the tournament since 2010, the last time the program made it to Omaha for the College World Series. Clemson won the Auburn Regional that season.
Clemson came close to not making the tournament this year. After starting the season 22-6, the Tigers faltered in the back half of the season, losing 17 of their final 28 regular season games, including an 8-game losing streak at one point. They also lost a record tying 9-straight ACC games during that same stretch.
However, Clemson turned things around late. It won four of its final six games, including a 7-1 victory over then No. 7 Louisville in the ACC Baseball Championships.
The win over the Cardinals, who won the ACC Regular Season Championship, was perhaps the deciding factor in Clemson earning an 11th straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Tigers finished ranked No. 38 in the final RPI rankings.
Despite its struggles at times, Clemson had a strong resume. Not only were the Tigers 3-1 against Louisville this season, but they went 3-0 against ACC Tournament Champion North Carolina.
Clemson was 7-5 overall against teams ranked in the top 12 of the RPI, and the seven wins marked the second most in the country behind UCLA’s eight.