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Freshman Aidan Knaak earns ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week honors

Thomas Gilbert
Knaak, pictured in his victory over Kennesaw State in February, is the first Clemson freshman to snag ACC Pitcher of the Week honors since 2016.

After a commanding seven-inning performance on Sunday, pitcher Aidan Knaak earned ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week. Knaak is the first freshman Tiger to earn ACC Pitcher of the Week honors since Alex Eubanks in 2016.

Knaak started the No. 2 Tigers’ matchup Sunday against the Fighting Irish, hoping to secure a sweep in the road series after dominant victories on Friday and Saturday. The freshman set the tone early, putting Notre Dame’s top three hitters down 1-2-3. The second inning saw more of the same from Knaak, and he tallied four strikeouts through the first six batters he faced.

As every Notre Dame hitter took a turn at the plate, it became clear: Aidan Knaak was untouchable.

In the fourth inning, Knaak’s perfection seemingly ended when the first two batters reached base on a hit-by-pitch and an error, respectively. However, Knaak escaped the jam with yet another strikeout after ceasing a run from a sacrifice fly to left field. That would be the only run for the Fighting Irish when the freshman right-hander was on the mound.

Heading into the seventh, Knaak almost pitched a no-hitter, but an infield single toward first base spoiled it. Knaak stepped off the rubber after striking out nine batters and allowing just three hits. Clemson held an 11-1 lead then, but defensive struggles after Knaak’s exit caused the game to get close for the Tigers.

Head coach Erik Bakich had nothing but praise for Knaak’s performance. “Aidan Knaak was in complete control for seven innings and just awesome,” he said.

“He has a chance to be a great pitcher for Clemson and to pitch for a very long time.”

Coming out of high school, Knaak was ranked the No. 26 right-handed pitcher in the country and the No. 102 prospect overall. After a shaky first performance against Xavier in February, Knaak has blossomed into a reliable star in Clemson’s rotation; he is now 2-0 on the year with a 3.38 ERA and 57 strikeouts.

As the youngest pitcher in Clemson’s rotation, Knaak’s dominating performance and well-earned award bodes well for a reliant star in Clemson’s bullpen for years to come.

Knaak and the Tigers will be back in action with a home series against NC State, starting Friday, April 12, at 6 p.m.

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Brett Porter
Brett Porter, Senior Reporter
Thomas Gilbert, Senior Photographer
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