Clemson baseball faces test at No. 1 North Carolina
CLEMSON — As April approaches, Clemson is struggling to produce consistent offense. Weekend starter Scott Firth has struggled recently, and the infield defense has been sieve-like at times.
No. 1 North Carolina has no such problems.
Here are the only three numbers you need to know about the Tar Heels: UNC allows 1.72 earned runs per game, scores nine runs per game, and has just one loss this season.
A flawed Clemson team travels to North Carolina (23-1, 7-1 ACC) to begin a three-game series at 6 p.m. today at Boshamer Stadium. Monday’s 6:30 p.m. will be televised on ESPNU. But despite its youth and inconsistencies Clemson (16-9, 5-3) remains in the Atlantic Division hunt, just two games back of front-running Florida State (23-2, 7-2) and ahead of preseason favorite N.C. State (17-9, 3-6).
Clemson coach Jack Leggett said his team is in search of consistency as it travels to Chapel Hill, N.C.
“We just have to get a little tougher,” Leggett said. “We have to get a little tougher, mentally. We have to decide we are going to play every single game. Every single night we have to decide we are going to be aggressive.”
Clemson’s sometimes passive approach at the plate has especially frustrated Leggett. Only Garrett Boulware (.358, 4 HRs) and Steve Wilkerson (.300) are batting at least .300, though College of Charleston transfer Thomas Brittle has raised his average to .295.
“We’re going to face some good pitching (at UNC), so we better have the right frame of mind offensively,” Leggett said.
Trying to improve its offensive approach will be difficult for Clemson against a UNC weekend staff that is a combined 15-1 and each of its starters has a sub-2.00 ERA.
Offensively, UNC has seven regulars batting .300 or better including Skye Bolt who is batting .429, second best in the ACC, and has four home runs.
Clemson enters Chapel Hill often starting at least three freshmen and is stricken with the growing pains, not that they are any less painful for Leggett.
“It’s painful, let’s put it that way,” Leggett said. “It is a growing pain I guess.”