CHARLOTTE, N.C.- Monte Lee's Tigers have been playing for their postseason lives over the final month of the season. However, when Clemson takes the field against Virginia Tech on Thursday night, the Tigers will do so with their backs pressed firmly against the wall.
After the 9-2 loss to No. 8 seed North Carolina, Clemson now finds itself in a precarious position. While the Tigers have no shot at moving beyond pool play in the ACC Tournament, that doesn't mean nothing is at stake Thursday night against the top-seeded Hokies.
• Who (Thursday) - Virginia Tech (40-11) vs. Clemson (35-22)
• When - Thursday (7 p.m.)
• Where - Charlotte, N.C. (Truist Field)
• Watch - RSN, ACC Network Extra
For Clemson to have any shot at earning an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, a win over Virginia Tech, ranked No. 2 in the country, is an absolute must.
"Our season is on the line, quite honestly," Lee said on Tuesday night. "I mean, we've got Virginia Tech, one of the best teams in the country to play on Thursday. We get a day to recover and regroup and get ready for them. And, you know, we have to take care of business on Thursday, bottom line."
SERIES HISTORY (VIRGINIA TECH)
• Overall Record - Clemson leads 49-25-2 (1902-2021)
• Record at Neutral - Clemson leads 5-2 (1902-2010)
• Record in ACC Tournament - Virginia Tech leads 1-0 (2010)
Despite sweeping Boston College last weekend, Clemson dropped several spots in the RPI. After the loss to the Tarheels, the Tigers dropped three more spots to No. 33. A win over Virginia Tech would certainly help the Tigers' cause, but Lee knows his team will need to be at its best in order to make that happen.
"We're trying to put our resume in a position to get into the postseason," Lee said. "If we come out and do what we're capable of doing against a really good club in Virginia Tech, and we could find a way to win that game, that certainly is going to help us. That's the bottom line."
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No starting pitchers have been announced, but it's quite possible the Tigers go with LHP Geoffrey Gilbert. The Clemson bullpen should also be in fairly decent shape, though, as no reliever threw more than an inning in Tuesday night's loss.
Regardless, with so much on the line for the Tigers, expect this to be an all-hands-on-deck type of contest.
"The season's on the line," Lee said. "We got to come out ready to go and play our best baseball game against arguably one of the best teams in our league."
• Clemson has a 3-2 neutral record.
• The Tigers came into the ACC Tournament averaging 7.7 runs per game and hitting .284 with a .486 slugging percentage, .388 on-base percentage and 32 steals.
• The pitching staff came in with a 4.61 ERA, .253 opponents’ batting average and 2.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and Clemson is fielding .973.
VIRGINIA TECH OVERVIEW
• Virginia Tech, who has yet to play a neutral game and is averaging 8.4 runs per game, is led by fifth-year Head Coach John Szefc.
• The Hokies, who are 30-5 in their last 35 games, swept Duke at home. They are hitting .309 and have a 4.06 ERA and .979 fielding percentage.
• Jack Hurley is hitting .383 with 13 homers, Tanner Schobel is batting .366 with 16 homers and 66 RBIs and Kiernan Higgins has five saves.
Clemson Athletics Communications contributed to this story.
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