Tigers excited, ready to play Illinois in Oxford Regional

Tigers excited, ready to play Illinois in Oxford Regional

Baseball

Tigers excited, ready to play Illinois in Oxford Regional

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OXFORD, Miss. — Clemson says it is ready as it can be as it gets set to take on No. 2 seed Illinois in Game 1 Friday at the Oxford (Miss.) Regional at Swayze Field in Oxford.

“I think we are about as ready as we can be,” head coach Monte Lee said following Thursday’s practice at Swayze Field. “Since we finished playing in the ACC Tournament, we have gotten a number of really good practices in. I felt like we got another good practice in today.

“We have been working hard, but we tried to have a little bit of fun along the way, too.”

The Tigers, the No. 3 seed in the regional, feel like they have new life after earning an 11th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. They went into last week’s game against Louisville desperately needing a win to perhaps get in, and that’s what they did.

They downed the No. 7 overall seed Cardinals, 7-1, behind the pitching of Mat Clark and 12 hits off Louisville pitching, including a double, 3 RBIs and a home run from catcher Kyle Wilkie.

“We are ready,” Wilkie said. “We are ready to go get out here, have fun, play hard and compete. We are ready to go.”

Clemson (34-24) will play the Illini at 4 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPNU.

“Overall, it has been a good week for us in preparation for Game 1 tomorrow and we’re excited about playing,” Lee said.

Swayze Field sits almost 12,000 fans and actually packed more than 12,000 against LSU. The ballpark has added two video boards and a new players’ facility and weight room down the right field line in recent years.

“It is awesome. We are used to some of (this kind of atmosphere) in the ACC,” Wilkie said. “There are a lot of good programs there and good stadiums, but this awesome! When you come in, it kind of wows you with the cages and everything, but it is awesome.”

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