The ACC Baseball Tournament will be held in Durham Bulls Athletic Park, in Durham NC, and will once again use the pool play format. For the third year, the format will feature 4 pools of 3 teams, with the winner of each pool advancing to play in a single elimination tournament. This guarantees each team a minimum of 2 games.
It is a format most of the fans seem to not care for, but that is a conversation for another day. The coaches seem to like it, at least publicly anyways, as this style seems to put less strain on pitching staffs than the standard double elimination tournament.
Clemson (33-23) enters as the #8 seed and will be part of Pool A with #1 seed Louisville (41-13) and #12 seed Boston College (29-26). Two teams the Tigers had some success against, taking two of three from BC on the road, and two of three from Louisville at home. Two series that feel as if they were played ages ago considering the downward turn the season took back in mid April.
The Tigers will first face Boston College Tuesday at 11 am, and then will play Louisville on Thursday at 11 am. In somewhat of a surprising move, Monte Lee will run RHP Travis Marr out to the hill to make his first start of the season against BC. In 16 relief appearances, the redshirt sophomore is 2-0 with a 6.48 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. Opponents are hitting .314 against him.
The Eagles will counter with RHP Mason Pelio. The hard throwing freshman is 4-3 with a 3.82 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18. He has struck out 59 batters in 66 innings and opponents are hitting just .197 off of him.
Clemson is averaging 6.7 runs per game, hitting .267 as a team, and have stolen 91 bases. The pitchers have a team ERA of 4.44, a 2.30 strikeout to walk ratio, and opponents are batting .248 against them.
Boston College comes in hitting .289 as a team and has a team ERA of 5.31. Two guys to keep an eye on are Jake Alu (.351 BA, 10 SB) and Cody Morisette (.321 BA, 8 SB).
No pitching matchup has been announced for the Louisville game. The Cardinals are ranked as high as #7 by Collegiate Baseball and are batting .298 as a team and have a 3.65 ERA. Leading the way for them are Tyler Fitzgerald (.338, 7 HR, 60 RBI, 15 SB) and Alex Binelas (.327 BA, 13 HR, 52 RBI).
Clemson is currently sitting at #36 in the RPI. Before its series win against Wake Forest to end the regular season, the Tigers were sitting at #38 in RPI and projected by Baseball America as one of the last four teams in the field of the NCAA Tournament. Despite that, they were projected as a low 3 seed.
Many thought a series win over Wake would be enough to make the Tigers a lock, and I lean towards that still being the case myself. Even in the worst case scenario of going winless this week in Durham. Being on the bubble though, that is a theory best not put to test. Splitting the two games gets them in without question, maybe even gets them a little bit better of a draw. Going 2-0 in pool play, and making a deep run in this tournament could put them on the brink of even being a 2 seed.
Or, they could just win the whole thing. This team is capable of that if it gets the pitching. That would give them a shot to do the very thing that's been done to them for three consecutive seasons. Go crash another team's home regional as a 2 seed. Who knows, maybe going on the road, with the pressure off, is exactly the path this team is destined for so they can exorcise some demons.
The ACC Tournament will be televised on your Regional Sports Network, which in most areas would be Fox Sports Net. You can listen on the Clemson Tigers Radio Network, or online on the Tune In Radio app via WCCP, 105.5 The Roar.