Whether or not the Clemson baseball team deserved the privilege to host an NCAA regional may remain debatable. The Tigers dropped 11 of their last 12 games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, including a 10-2 loss to Virginia on Friday.
Virginia closed the ACC Tournament with a 42-14 overall record. Clemson finished 39-19. Nevertheless, Clemson was one of five ACC schools selected to host. Conversely, Virginia became the first 40-win team not named a host since 2009, when the committee bypassed the Cavaliers' 43 wins and sent them to Irvine, California.
Clemson will open the regional with no momentum but no complaints. The Tigers should not expect any more favors, though, especially considering the other three teams who will open play at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Friday.
Clemson, the No. 1 seed in the regional, will open against No. 4 UNC-Greensboro. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. No. 2 seed Vanderbilt will face No. 3 St. John's at noon.
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Vanderbilt, led by former Clemson assistant coach Tim Corbin, won the College World Series national championship in 2014 and finished as runner-up the following season. Vanderbilt was eliminated in the opening round, at home, last year. The Commodores closed the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 33-22-1 overall record.
Clemson reached the tournament for the ninth consecutive season. For the second consecutive year, the Tigers will open against the Southern Conference Tournament champion. Last year, Clemson defeated Western Carolina twice by a combined score of 39-13. The Tigers were subsequently bounced from the double-elimination bracket by Oklahoma State.
This time, the Tigers must face UNC-Greensboro, who clinched the SoCon title Sunday with a 13-1 win against Furman in Downtown Greenville. The Spartans averaged 7.9 runs per game through their previous 10 outings.
The University of South Carolina missed the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the three seasons. The Gamecocks pushed desperately in the SEC Tournament. Carolina won three of its first four tournament games, including wins against NCAA Tournament teams Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Gamecocks' Hail Mary was interrupted Saturday in an 11-0 loss to No. 4 overall seed LSU.
South Carolina could not convince the committee to grant an at-large invitation, and now coach Chad Holbrook must convince athletic director Ray Tanner to grant him another season with the program.