CLEMSON – Clemson baseball has faced, by all accounts, a gauntlet of an early schedule.
The Tigers (18-11, 6-6 ACC) are 5-7 against top-25 competition that’s made up four of their last five weekend series, and on the road in those matchups, they’ve managed to go 4-4.
Now comes the hard part.
Clemson heads to Boston College, who are losers of all 11 conference games thus far, with a 5-22 mark on the season.
"The biggest problem for us (has been) when we play the (lower) competition," Tigers sophomore catcher Garrett Boulware said. "If we don’t look at them – just play our game – that makes the biggest difference for us."
Clemson is 3-3 against opponents with a losing record this season. Boulware, who leads the Tigers with a .357 batting average and five homers, says it takes a relentless mindset to take care of business in these type of series.
Tigers need right mindset at BC
"Don’t feel comfortable," he said, "always feel the need to tack on more hits because the lead is never big enough. There’s always a chance for them to come back. We just need to put them down when we can."
This is the Eagles’ first home three-game set of the season, after an earlier series with UNC was moved to Chapel Hill due to snow. BC has won two in a row, including their home opener Wednesday against Harvard, 8-6.
Predictably, the Eagles rank dead-last in the ACC in team batting (.204/3 runs per game) and team ERA (7.00).
Clemson’s bats haven’t been much better, or at least not where coach Jack Leggett wants them yet.
"We need to find a measure of consistency offensively. That’s the key," Leggett said. "We need to find more confidence and more consistency. If we can do that, it well help us breathe a little bit better and help us in midweek games, (the) weekend and early on in ballgames."
He is sticking the same revamped rotation formed at No. 1 UNC last week. Sophomore right-hander Daniel Gossett (3-2, 2.89 ERA) gets the ball in today’s 2:30 p.m. start against the one BC starter with a sub-5.00 ERA, righty Hunter Gordon (0-3, 4.24). Gossett surrendered more earned runs in his last start against the Tar Heels (8) than he had given up in his previous six outings (6).
Freshman right-hander Clate Schmidt (2-1, 4.40) takes the mound for another 2:30 p.m. first pitch Saturday, while in the 1 p.m. Sunday matinee, freshman lefty Matthew Crownover (3-0, 3.62) makes his second career weekend start. Crownover held UNC to three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings for a no decision Monday.
Senior long reliever Jonathan Meyer, who earned the win Wednesday against Gardner-Webb, is confident in what he’s seeing from the pitching staff, which ranks fourth in the ACC in team ERA (3.49).
"We got Crownover who’s pitching really well right now," Meyer said, "and Goose who’s coming off a bad start, but I feel like any time you come off a bad start you have your best stuff the next time out.
"I feel like we’ll be ready."
With a consensus top-25 RPI and strength of schedule, the groundwork has been laid for a Clemson NCAA regional-host run, but they have some work to do – a three-seed in the UCLA Regional in Baseball America’s midseason tournament projections.
After this weekend, the Tigers finish the season with four of their last six series at home, starting with Wake Forest next week.
Now, it’s all about tallying victories.
"The next couple weeks could be really big for us," Boulware said. "We could easily win the next 10-to-12 games. Could completely change the way our season’s going (and) help us out a lot towards the end of the year."