Clemson will head into ACC Tournament with NCAA fate in limbo

Shortly after Clemson clinched a series win over Wake Forest Friday night, Tigers head coach Monte Lee was quick to point out that the Tigers had not “solidified anything” yet as far as their NCAA Tournament chances.

Clemson had an opportunity to move off the bubble and into better shape for the postseason Saturday afternoon against the Demon Deacons. The Tigers let that chance go to waste.

Wake Forest pounded Clemson 14-5 in the final game of the regular season to drop the Tigers to 33-23 (15-15 ACC). Clemson will play in the ACC Tournament this week and will likely need to have some success there to clinch an NCAA Tournament berth.

“Well, today was frustrating to say the least,” Lee said. “Didn’t play well really in any phase of the game. Pitching-wise we needed to be good today and we were not. Offensively I didn’t think we did a good enough job of sticking to our plan, especially with two strikes.”

The Tigers were outhit 18-6 in the blowout loss, and Clemson pitchers combined to walk six batters.

Freshman starter Davis Sharpe allowed seven runs in five innings, with four walks, and suffered the loss. Fellow freshman Keyshawn Askew, who was in the starting rotation earlier in the year, gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning.

“Sharpe, I thought, was very good the first two innings and then he struggled to find the strike zone in the third,” Lee said. “When we don’t throw strikes, when we walk guys, and multiple runners get on base via the free 90, then we give up crooked numbers and that’s what happened.”

Clemson was listed as one of the final five teams in D1Baseball’s latest NCAA projections entering this weekend, and the Tigers should have helped their chances by winning two out of three games against the Demon Deacons. But as Lee pointed out Friday, there is a big difference between going 16-14 in the ACC (two games above .500) and being 15-15.

Clemson is currently No. 38 in the RPI, according to Warren Nolan.

The Tigers are the No. 8 seed for the ACC Tournament and will be in a pool with No. 1 seed Louisville and No. 12 seed Boston College. The full ACC Tournament schedule will be released Sunday.

“Regardless of what our record is going into the ACC Tournament we need to have some success. We need to play well in the ACC Tournament, whether we’re 16-14 or 15-15,” Lee said. “We certainly would have liked to have been 16-14 going into the ACC Tournament. I told the team that (Friday), re-emphasized it again today. But they’ve got to go out there and do it. The bottom line is we’re 56 games into the season and guys have got to step up and play their best baseball this time of year.”