After two rainy days of baseball, the Clemson Tigers celebrated their ACC-record 11th Tournament Championship following a come-from-behind 11-5 win over the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon. It's the 16th win in a row for the hottest team in the world, and the Tigers are now 26-3 over their last 29 games.
Down 5-3 at the 7th inning stretch, Clemson scored eight runs in the bottom of the 7th to break the game open and all but clinch the ACC Title. It started with an innocuous Will Taylor walk to start the inning and was followed by bloop single to left by Caden Grice. After throwing 78 pitches yesterday, Miami once again turned to Alejandro Torres to enter the game to face Billy Amick. The sophomore designated hitter doubled off the monster in left to score Taylor from second while Grice advanced to third. There were still no outs.
Senior Riley Bertram followed Erik Bakich to Clemson from Michigan as a transfer this past offseason. In 626 collegiate at-bats in his career, he had two home runs to his name before this game. He's played in every game for Clemson this season and had yet to homer in a Tiger uniform. That changed in the 7th inning as he stepped into the box for the biggest at-bat of his Clemson career. The long-time second baseman drilled a 2-2 pitch over the wall in right center for a three-run home run to give the Tigers a 7-5 lead. Another run would score on an error before Will Taylor's three-run home run later in the inning, and the Tigers went from down 5-3 to up 11-5 in just about 15 minutes.
Grice said after the game that on Bertram's homer, he was supposed to be getting ready to tag in case of a sacrifice fly, but "tor some reason my hand went up in the air, I just felt like it was gone. It was a really special moment and he smacked that one good."
Bertram wasn't trying to hit a home run. "I was just trying to get a pitch to put in the outfield, sac fly and get the runner in. Luckily enough, it went a bit further than I was expecting."
Grice was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament after a 7-19 performance that included a double, two home runs, and nine runs batted in over four games. The junior two-way star also shined on the mound, stifling a good North Carolina offense over 7 innings on Saturday's semi-final matchup. Riley Bertram, Cooper Ingle, and Cam Cannarella joined him on the All-Tournament team. Billy Amick, who was left of the All-Tournament tea, shined once again as well, going 6-17 with four extra base hits and seven RBIs over the course of the tournament.
"This team will be talked about to so many future generations of Clemson Tigers," Coach Erik Bakich said in his opening statement of the postgame press conference. "Any time you hit rough patch, any time you have a rough start, any time you have adversity-- we're going to talk about what this team did."
Grice expressed how much this conference championship means. "It means everything. It means everything to us, it means everything to Clemson," he said. "Clemson is a championship school. That trophy is where it belongs now."
Zach Levenson homered for Miami while Dominic Pitelli and Blake Cyr each doubled and drove in a run for Miami offensively. Both Clemson and Miami are expected to host NCAA Regionals next weekend, with the Tigers a lock to earn a Top 8 National Seed after starting the season 17-14 and 2-8 in the ACC.