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Clemson baseball eager to return to Omaha in 2024

Matt Mynes
Many players, pictured in the dugout during Clemson’s match against South Carolina last March, will return to the field this season.

The 2024 Clemson baseball season is right around the corner, and the Tigers have a lot to be excited about as head coach Erik Bakich enters his second season at the helm.

The Bakich-led Tigers showed immediate success in 2023, earning their first ACC Championship title since 2016 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019.

The Tigers began the 2023 season 2-8 while sitting in last place in the ACC. They demonstrated resilience in rallying back and winning 17 straight games to help finish 44-19. Ultimately, the team fell short of its championship hopes after running into the red-hot Tennessee Volunteers in regional play.

Although the 2023 season did not conclude with the storybook ending that the Tigers hoped for, the 2024 team returns many proven pieces and is supplemented by elite transfer talent.

“This team is prepared and ready to win. Now we just have to execute,” Bakich said during a preseason press conference.

The sky is the limit for sophomore outfielder Cam Cannarella, the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year. Cannarella batted .388, had a .462 on-base percentage and had a .560 stat line slugging percentage, in addition to 26 extra–base hits, seven home runs and 24 stolen bases.

Joining Canarella in the outfield is junior Will Taylor, a former wide receiver on the football field who has now transitioned full-time to the diamond. Taylor had a breakout year in 2023, hitting .362/.489/.523 and recording 23 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases. Returning senior second baseman Blake Wright, who belted eight homers in 2023, will also bring veteran leadership to the 2024 squad.

The Tigers pitching staff is led by junior righty Austin Gordon, who will look to improve on his 2-4 record and 4.61 ERA. The pitching staff will be supplemented by sophomore lefty Tristan Smith and Wofford transfers Matthew Marchal and Lucas Mahlstedt, both of whom will provide arm talent and game-tested leadership.

Sophomore right-hander Joe Allen and graduate Nick Clayton will also log meaningful innings, with graduate Rob Hughes anchoring a quality bullpen capable of closing out games.

Bakich and his staff added some talented transfers through the portal in the offseason. Former Michigan catcher Jimmy Obertop, known for his resilient defense and strong presence behind the plate, will rejoin his former head coach. Another top transfer comes from Richmond, as former Spider Alden Mathes looks to bring his hard-hitting talents to Clemson after posting a combined stat line of .320/.408/.522 in four years at Richmond.

“We have no excuses,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got enough pieces, and I’m really excited to see how these pieces come together over the next few weeks leading up to the start of the season, and then seeing how it all evolves and how the roster continues to take shape.”

The Tigers begin the 2024 season with a three-game homestand against Xavier starting on Friday, Feb. 16, at 4 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore.

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