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Clemson baseball aiming to improve near halfway mark of the season

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Matt Mynes // Photo Editor

Clemson starting pitcher Ryan Ammons (21) takes the mound against Binghamton on 2023 opening day at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. 

As the midway point of the 2023 season approaches, the Clemson baseball team (17-13, 2-7 ACC) has had a rather mediocre start to its year.

After starting the season a perfect 4-0, the Tigers have since gone 13-13. Over that span, the team has been swept at home twice, first by the University of Central Florida followed by No. 2 Wake Forest, which had a six-game winning streak and lost the rivalry series to No. 6 South Carolina.

The team’s up-and-down start has also been reflected in the stats. Clemson holds a team batting average of .290, seventh in the ACC, and a team earned run average (ERA) of 4.88, placing them eighth in the conference.

Despite being middle of the pack in most categories, the team has struggled in the power department, as its 43 home runs rank last in the ACC.

“I hope it truly is kind of that midpoint of the regular season wake-up call for a lot of our guys,” head coach Erik Bakich said following being swept by Wake Forest last week.

As far as individual performances go, freshman center fielder Cam Cannarella has been a standout star in his debut season. In 26 games, the Hartsville, South Carolina, native is currently hitting .417 (third in the ACC), along with having two home runs and 22 RBIs, all while playing stout defensively.

Cannarella displayed his talent and ability to perform in high-leverage situations as a freshman with a walk-off three-run homer against Winthrop University on March 21.

Another big-time contributor for Clemson has been first baseman/starting pitcher Caden Grice. After a slow start to his season, the junior left-hander has come on strong as of late.

In the past 12 games, Grice has hit to the tune of .413 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs. Grice has also pitched 19 innings on the year with a 3.79 ERA and 29 strikeouts.

On March 26 against Georgia Tech, Grice logged a win on the mound, pitched five innings with one strikeout and belted two home runs. His play awarded him with co-player of the week honors in the ACC.

“He’s clearly carrying us,” Bakich said of Grice’s recent play. “What he’s been doing with the bat, what he’s doing on the mound, he’s doing awesome.”

The Tigers have also been plagued by injuries early in the season, most notably on the pitching staff with the loss of right-handed pitcher Ryan Ammons. Serving in the role of Clemson’s ace, Ammons has pitched 10 innings with 19 strikeouts and a 2.70 ERA as the team waits for him to return from a forearm injury.

Looking ahead for Clemson, the schedule will get more challenging as the team dives further into conference play. The Tigers are set to play series against No. 9 Boston College, No. 13 North Carolina and No. 18 Louisville in the coming weeks. Clemson will also face off against No. 17 Coastal Carolina twice in a home-and-home two-game series.

Despite the challenges the team has already faced and will face ahead, coaches and players alike know the potential they can play at and are confident they can improve.

“We’re staying positive, and we really feel like we’re going to turn this thing around,” Grice said.

Next up for Clemson will be a three-game home series against Florida State, starting on Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

All statistics are accurate as of April 3, 2023, when the article was sent to press.

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