Clemson was on the brink. After a great start, bad middle, and up and down finish, it was pretty clear Clemson needed something good to happen in the ACC Tournament to have any confidence going into Selection Monday. The Tigers did very little.
Game one seemed like the best opportunity with a matchup with a North Carolina team that also finds itself hovering around the bubble. And yet, Clemson had a lackluster offense and worse pitching in a 9-2 loss. Monte Lee even admitted that the Tigers’ season was on the line in the next game against the Hokies.
Early on it looked rough after VT finessed walks to a 3-0 lead. But a two run Blake Wright homer made it seem like Clemson could claw back. Then in the third, the Hokies crushed four home runs, including three back-to-back-to-back.
At that point, it felt lost. Even after some Clemson homers to get it as close as 10-6, it still didn’t feel like enough. And sure enough, it wasn’t as pitching fell apart, and the Hokies won a 18-6. With that, Clemson’s Tournament chances likely died.
Clemson came into the ACC Tourney as D1 baseball’s last team to make the NCAA field. Baseball America had the Tigers in the first four out. The radio announcers said it feels like a coin flip if the Tigers make the tourney. I think that coin feels a bit weighted against us, but I can’t say I’ll be completely surprised if we somehow stumble in as a three seed.
I’m sure shop, bar, and restaurant owners in Knoxville are praying we make it in, because our fans travel and it isn’t too far. This isn’t saying Vols fans won’t flood Knoxville that weekend. I’m just saying getting a passionate fanbase that’s only a three hour drive from you as a three seed would be icing on their cake.
Really though, that’s irrelevant. This isn’t Clemson baseball. Growing up for me, the Tigers making the tourney was the minimum. Even not hosting a regional caused grumbling. And now we’re staring at back-to-back seasons of missing the tournament. We haven’t been to Omaha since 2010. Clemson has a great tradition, but it’s hard to sell that to recruits when our last big year happened when they were 6. Especially when the new money programs of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and such are so dominant.
Something has to happen, regardless of Monday. I’m not calling for Monte or any coach’s job in particular, but I need to see something that makes me think Clemson is serious about baseball again.