Clemson baseball’s remarkable turnaround in 2023 has been well documented, and on a weekend occupied with regional action on the softball diamond, the Tigers ran through North Carolina on the baseball side to win their 7th consecutive ACC series to end the regular season.
The action began with an explosive 14-7 win on Thursday night for Clemson. The Tigers tallied 19 hits, including at least one hit from all nine starters. The Clemson offense, which has been red hot in May, took a commanding 6-0 lead through the first two innings and never looked back. Despite the rainy conditions, Tiger pitching was able to hold the North Carolina offense until some late game runs cut the lead to seven before Rocco Reid’s strikeout ended game one.
Billy Amick was the most dominant Clemson batter at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Caden Grice added another homer as well.
Game two was a tight contest that came down to the final at-bat. After the Tar Heels jumped on the board early with a three-run home run, the Tiger offense quickly responded in the next inning with a three-spot on the board as well. Clemson took the lead an inning later on a Cam Cannarella sac-fly.
As many Clemson teams do, the Tigers left a flare for the dramatic on the table when multiple pop-fly drops in the ninth led to the Tar Heels tying the game with two outs and forcing Clemson to bat in the bottom half of the inning. Nothing to fret over, however, as Caden Grice walked and Billy Amick was hit by a pitch to bring up Blake Wright, who lined the first pitch he saw to left field to score Grice and give the Tigers a 5-4 win, clinching their seventh straight ACC series win.
Saturday’s final was a pitchers’ duel as Caden Grice and the UNC pitching staff combined for stellar pitching through the first seven innings. On the mound for the Tigers, Grice went 7.1 innings, only giving up four hits and one run while striking out nine Tar Heel batters. On the opposite side, UNC’s starter Dalton Pence only went 2.1 innings after giving up a 2-run homer to Grice in the first, but his bullpen held the waters, holding the Tigers scoreless until Riley Bertram’s 8th inning RBI double gave Clemson a 3-1 lead heading to the ninth.
Again, the Tar Heels gave the Clemson bullpen trouble in the 9th after a leadoff double and advancement on a fly-out put the tying run at the plate with one out for UNC. Tiger pitcher Rob Hughes struck out the next batter before Cannarella made an unbelievable diving play in centerfield to end the ballgame, completing their third straight series sweep in ACC play.
Clemson ends the regular season 39-17 and 20-10 in ACC play, winners of 22 of their last 25 games and riding a 12-game win streak into the ACC tournament. A month ago, this team was 12-8 overall and just lost its first ACC series to Duke. After losing in Atlanta to Georgia Tech and getting swept at home by Wake Forest, the tide officially turned after run-ruling a ranked Coastal Carolina team, and the rest is history.
The Tigers will be the 3-seed in the ACC tournament next week in Durham as Clemson looks for its first ACC title since 2016. They are joined by 6-seed Boston College and 10-seed Virginia Tech in pod 3. If Clemson can get out of pool play, they will most likely clinch one of the top-8 national seeds, which would let them host not only a regional, but potentially one of the Super Regionals as well, something Clemson has not done since 2010.
The excitement surrounding Clemson baseball is back! For more, check out the video below: