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Clemson baseball finding production from some unlikely sources

As ACC play picks up for the Clemson Tigers, the season has quietly sped by. With a record of 24-7, the Tigers are in secon place in the Atlantic divison with more than half of the games in the book. 

Outside of a series sweep at home against NC State (losses that look better with every Wolfpack victory) the Tigers have been in position to win every game they have played. 

The other losses have come at the hands of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Louisville and Notre Dame. In the case of South Carolina and Louisville, the Tigers went on to win the series despite the losses. Clemson also got revenge of their loss to Coastal in Conway over their spring break trip with a 6-1 win at Doug Kingsmore on April 3. 

One of the most surprising aspects of the Tigers’ run so far is the fact that prior to the series against Boston College, junior slugger Seth Beer had been scuffling at the plate. Entering that series, Beer was batting just .259 with seven homeruns. Against the Eagles, Beer went 5-1 with three homeruns and seven RBIs. 

“I’m starting to see the ball better. I’m starting to relax. I think the biggest thing for me … is to not do too much,” Beer said after his performance against Boston College on March 31. 

Before Beer’s hot-streak, the Tigers were having to rely on some more unlikely heroes to get the job done at the plate. 

“I think that’s the great thing about this team … we can get production from top to bottom,” Head Coach Monte Lee said. 

Finding that production at the bottom of the lineup has been key for the Tiger offense. Through the first several games, the bottom three hitters — Grayson Byrd, Kyle Wilkie and Byrce Teodosio — were struggling to get quality at-bats. 

Byrd burst onto the scene in his three-homerun game against Charleston Southern in March. While  he has been in and out of the lineup while Lee tries to figure out what combination he likes most in the infield, Byrd has given the Tigers a boost in the bottom third of the order. 

Wilkie’s numbers won’t blow anyone away, but what doesn’t always show through on the scoresheet is the timeliness of his hits. Though he is only batting .218, he has an on-base percentage of .327 and a slugging percentage of .264. None of those numbers jump off the page, but they do illustrate how Wilkie has been able to come up with the big hits. He even hit the walk-off against Winthrop earlier in the year. 

Recently, he’s moved up a couple spots in the order and still needs to find his rhythm to be a bigger offensive asset. 

Teodosio, a freshman who has played centerfield on and off, is in the definition of a slump. After starting the year off impressing both his coach and the fans, he has since struggled to do anything at the plate. He has been out of the lineup for a while now, only coming in to pinch hit or play defense late, and his numbers show why. 

He is batting .167, but the real story is his strikeouts. In 66 at-bats, Teodosio has struck out 34 times. For comparison, the next highest on the team is Logan Davidson with 33 strikeouts in 105 at-bats. 

In order to help that bottom spot in the order, Lee shuffled his lineup and brought in Jordan Greene. Greene played second for the Tigers all of last season and is known for his defensive abilities. However, he has done well at the plate for the Tigers. In the nine-hole in the order, Greene is batting .273 with a .485 slugging percentage. The biggest surprise has been his new-found power, as he hit two homeruns in two games against Boston College and Coastal Carolina respectively. 

“When you have a guy like [Greene] in the nine-hole turning over the order, you’re in good shape,” Lee said. 

The Tigers are able to score in bunches when they get production from those bottom three guys, and that is the key for their success going forward. As the season wears on and pitchers grow tired, the offense will need to be able to pick them up and carry them into postseason play. 

With Lee’s offensive mentality of taking advantage of free passes and using the long ball, Clemson is primed to be able to work quality at-bats and find ways to win games. 

The Tigers return to action Tuesday against Georgia in North Augusta at 6:30 p.m. 

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