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Clemson must take advantage of long home stand

Rachel Rosstedt, staff

Redshirt junior Reed Rohlman (26) steps up to the plate during a home game at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Rohlman has an average of .283 and has a team-high 13  doubles so far this season.

The primary weakness of Clemson baseball this season has been their inability to consistently perform at a high level on the road. However, this past weekend’s embarrassment at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals in Jim Patterson Stadium marked the lowest low for the Tigers.

Coming into this season, most college baseball analysts expected the Tigers to struggle in the starting pitching department, as several key pitchers from the previous season had graduated. Surprisingly, Clemson’s pitching staff, led by senior Clate Schmidt, outperformed expectations through the first month and a half of the season. Therefore, this past weekend was a bit of a reality check for the Tigers.

Giving up 31 runs in three consecutive games is not good at any level.  That a ranked team fighting for the right to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament is the victim of the 31 runs is definitely nothing to be proud of.

With Schmidt, Charlie Barnes and Alex Eubanks, Clemson’s three best starters, on the hill for the Louisville series, the Tigers were expected to put up a valiant fight against the No. 6 Cardinals, but all three were shellacked.

Clemson’s offense bounced back from a lackluster hitting performance at Duke the previous weekend, but the pitching concerns do not appear to be as easily fixable. Yes, Louisville is one of the top hitting teams in the nation, but Clemson’s starting pitching has gradually degraded since the start of April. Trials and tribulations can be expected throughout the season, but it is no secret that the Tigers’ best performances this season have come against opponents that are not as good as they are.

In order to progress and become national-championship material, a team must gain ground by trumping superior foes. The Tigers have fallen short of doing so since conference play began, especially on the road. Now that Clemson is on a 13-game home stand, Tiger fans will have to wait with bated breath until the next road series. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the ACC Tournament will not be at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and, at this point, it appears somewhat unlikely that very many NCAA Tournament games will be held there either.

The Tigers have to start somewhere. Clemson must use their only two road series in May as opportunities to overcome their road struggles and gain confidence heading into the postseason. The pitching woes must be corrected, as well, because power hitter Seth Beer cannot carry the team by himself. The Tigers are young and have a first-year head coach, so hiccups are inevitable. With that being said, it is now late April, and the acclimation period should be over. Clemson’s starting pitchers are all highly talented, and they must show as much in their late-season outings if the Tigers are to makes some noise in the postseason.

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