Clemson, NCSU Have Reasons For HopeColumns
RALEIGH, N.C. — Clemson and NC State entered Saturday’s regular-season finale on completely opposite trajectories. The Tigers had lost their last nine ACC contests, falling from 16-4 in the league to 16-13. In the process, they slipped from a very strong national seed favorite to a team just trying desperately to hold onto a hosting spot.
The Wolfpack, meanwhile, looked like a team on track to miss the NCAA tournament entirely after getting swept by Boston College to fall to 20-20 overall and 8-13 in the league on April 23. But from that day forward, NC State won 13 of its next 14 games to match Clemson’s 16-13 ACC mark entering the final day. In the process, the Wolfpack went from a team on the wrong side of the at-large bubble to a surging darkhorse host candidate.
But Clemson’s scuffling offense had started to show signs of life in the ninth inning on Friday night, when the Tigers scored eight runs in the final frame in a 12-10 loss. And perhaps that little outburst served as a springboard leading into Saturday, when Clemson pounded out 15 hits and drew 11 walks in a 15-6 victory. That was an awfully important victory for the Tigers, who should be able breathe a little easier about their hosting chances after finishing 17-13 in the ACC with a top-10 RPI, though their poor final month could still cost them if they fall flat in the conference tourney.
“We want to go into the tournament with a mindset of let’s try to do everything we can to play good baseball and win this thing,” Clemson coach Monte Lee said. “That’s all we’re really worried about right now, we can’t control those other factors, but it certainly is good to get a win here to finish the regular season, as we’ve been struggling.”
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