CLEMSON – After a season of ups and downs, Clemson baseball’s fight to the finish still has its options.
Seven games to go, the Tigers (30-19, 12-11 ACC) are No. 36 in the RPI riding a five-game winning streak. Helping and hurting them, they don’t play a team in the top-150 before the ACC Tournament – meaning the wins could pile up, but any loss (and definitely any series of losses) could be costly.
First up is a road trip to Notre Dame (17-30, 4-20), which has lost nine of its last 11 games and is 7-10 at home this season.
Conversely, the Tigers are 7-3 in their last 10 games away from Doug Kingsmore Stadium, taking ACC series at both Maryland and Pittsburgh – and they are feeling pretty good right now.
Over the last five games, Tiger starters are averaging over seven innings per outing with just over an earned run per game allowed (1.2).
Freshman righties Drew Moyer and Garrett Lovorn, a Pendleton product, have emerged of late in the bullpen – allowing just three earned runs in their last 24 frames.
And despite some injuries shuffling the lineup, Clemson paces the ACC in batting average (.284) and ranks second in slugging percentage (.391), runs (286) and stolen bases (78).
“At this point in the season, every game is important to us,” sophomore right fielder Steven Duggar said. “We dropped a couple heartbreakers early and let it get out of control. With every win, comes a little bit more confidence. Hopefully we can continue to keep clicking on all cylinders and go into the ACC Tournament with a 12-game win streak.”
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The Tigers entered their current run losing 5-of-6, but veteran former Hanna catcher Garrett Boulware says they never gave in to doubt.
“It was really frustrating,” said Boulware. “People think we’ve given up and we’re trying so hard. People don’t realize how hard these guys work just to play nine innings of baseball. When you have those two or three week periods where no matter how hard you try and it does not fall – that’s baseball.
“You have to continue to pick yourself up. It can beat you down…I’m just glad we’re hopefully finding our way out of it right now.”
The Irish rank 12th in the ACC in batting average (.246), 13th in slugging (.322) and last in runs (180). Their pitching staff is No. 7 in ERA (3.19), but next-to-last in strikeouts per nine innings (6.26).
“We have to win to do some damage,” Boulware said. “It’s not that we’re playing that way in a nervous way. It’s like OK – it doesn’t matter how it happens, we have to find a way to win.”