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2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament: Clemson can get hot and make a deep run

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Don’t let the .500 ACC record fool you.

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Clemson baseball certainly has the type of pedigree and winning tradition to make any baseball fan sit up and pay immediate attention.

This is the program’s 44th trip to the NCAA tournament including 32 of the last 33 years — a model of consistency. The Tigers (34-24, 15-15 ACC) have made nine super regional appearances though its last one was way back when in 2010.

And the ultimate trip, Omaha and the College World Series, has hosted Clemson 12 times in its history. All in all, this ACC club has been around the block and then some. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Jack Leggett had the Tigers rolling. In fact, from 2000-2010, Clemson made it to a Super Regional or the College World Series EIGHT TIMES.

But there was a stretch from April 12th-May 7th where this team looked lost and in a tailspin, getting swept by Florida State, swept by Duke, and losing two of three from Georgia Tech in a 3-12 skid. They closed the season going 6-4, however, doing just enough to get a bid into the Oxford regional.

None of that 9-17 record in the last seven weeks seems to have phased the coaching staff’s confidence, however. The Tigers announced Tuesday it would save ace Mat Clark (9-2, 2.84 ERA) for Saturday’s game, most likely assuming a win on Friday and facing the Rebels the next day.

Clark and Davis Sharpe (6-4, 3.48 ERA) are the clear one-two punch for this squad, but after that, things seem to get dicey on a pitching staff whose team ERA (4.39) is not exactly enticing. How this team will win a regional that goes beyond three games would have to be based around a lot of offense, which they are in no short supply of either.

Grayson Byrd and Logan Davidson lead Clemson in most of its offensive categories, slugging 15 home runs and more than 50 runs batted in a piece. As a team, the Tigers are hitting at a .266 clip and it looks to be a patchwork of several players who have filled the starting lineup throughout the year.

One of the common opponents around the same time of year for Ole Miss and Clemson are the Louisville Cardinals, who finished its season 43-15 (HI DAN!), earning them the No. 7 overall seed. The Rebels dropped two close contests to UL (4-3 in 10 innings, 10-8) while Clemson took two-of-three at home to the Cardinals. Now, that could mean a whole hell of a lot if you believe in the transitive property in baseball. If not, then let’s go.

So it looks like it all depends on which Clemson team shows up in Oxford for postseason baseball. They absolutely have the tools necessary to come in and upset higher-seeded Ole Miss and Illinois if its pitching holds up. The Tigers will not have an easy game in this regional, however, and as they get into potential game three and four, it will be a true test to how this team can answer the bell.