Crazy things can happen in college baseball’s postseason, and particularly in the ACC Tournament, where pool play prevails.
The league’s top 12 teams are invited to the party and divided into four pools, with each of the top four teams in the league seeded atop one of the pools.
No. 8 Clemson is seeded No. 3 and shares a pool with 6-seed Boston College and 10-seed Virginia Tech. The team with the best winning percentage in each pool advances to Saturday’s semifinals.
This will be first-year Clemson coach Erik Bakich’s first taste of pool play, but he’s already questioning the process.
“I’ve never done it this way,” Bakich said. “I don’t know if you call it a tournament.”
By any name, it’s a prerequisite to the NCAA Tournament, so here’s a look at what the Tigers will be playing for this week:
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A first ACC Tournament title since 2016
Clemson’s quest for an 11th ACC Tournament title is set to begin Wednesday (7 p.m., ACC Network) against Virginia Tech. The Tigers will complete pool play on Friday morning (11 a.m., ACC Network) against Boston College.
The Tigers are 7-3 in their most recent three ACC Tournaments at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina, including a four-game sweep en route to their most recent title in 2016. Clemson was seeded No. 6 that year.
Improving seeding for NCAA Tournament
With a 39-17 record, a No. 7 ranking in the RPI and riding a 12-game winning streak, Clemson already has an NCAA Tournament berth well in hand, but a strong showing in the ACC Tournament certainly could enhance the Tigers’ seeding and confirm a spot as one of 16 regional hosts.
Clemson’s players are hungry, Bakich says, after not playing in the NCAA Tournament since 2019.
“They know we’ve fallen short – the program has – and they want to get it right back on top,” Bakich said. “They were hungry and eager and willing to do whatever it took to get us to where we are right now, but we just have to keep our head down now because there’s so much left to play for moving forward.”
Clemson could clinch a Top 8 seed
One of those things left to play for is the opportunity to be named a Top 8 national seed, which enables a team to host a Super Regional should they prevail in their own Regional. Clemson has not hosted a Super Regional since 2010, which also is the last time the Tigers advanced to the College World Series.
Bakich has witnessed a dramatic turnaround by his team, which was barely above .500 and 2-8 in the ACC on April 6, but went 18-2 in league play down the stretch. The fans have followed suit.
“It’s exciting and I’m happy for the Clemson community,” Bakich said. “It needs to be part of what Clemson does every year. The crowd plays a massive role; it’s a 10th man, like having an extra player out there.
“I’d love to see this place go even a level beyond what it was this weekend (when Clemson swept North Carolina), with the fans and the crowd and the energy, noise – all of it.”
Scott Keepfer covers Clemson athletics for The Greenville News and the USA TODAY Network. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ScottKeepfer