Position: Head Coach
Erik Bakich has made an immediate impact as Clemson’s 28th head coach in 2023. In his first season in Tigertown in 2023, Bakich led the Tigers to the league championship by going 4-0 in the ACC Tournament at Durham, N.C. It was Clemson’s first ACC title since 2016 and was a big reason it earned the No. 4 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, the first time they hosted a regional since 2018 and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2019.
In 2023, Clemson went from last place in the ACC in early April with a 2-8 record and finished with a 20-10 league mark, good for second place in the overall standings, thanks in large part to a 17-game winning streak, tied for fourth longest in school history, during the second half of the season. Including an undefeated ACC Tournament to capture its 16th ACC championship, Clemson was 24-10 against ACC squads and won 20 of its last 21 games against conference foes in 2023. The Tigers also won their last seven ACC series, their longest such streak during one season since 1994.
The Tigers, who had 24 come-from-behind wins and won 12 of their last 13 road games, finished the 2023 season with a 44-19 record, their best mark since 2018, and ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation by Baseball America in the final polls. Clemson, whose 44 wins tied for 11th most in the nation, played the nation’s ninth-toughest schedule, as it played 56 of its 63 games against teams with a .500 or better overall record.
Clemson hit .306 with a .400 on-base percentage in 2023, its best marks since 2011, and totaled 103 steals, most by the Tigers since 2013. Clemson also had a 4.30 ERA and set a school record for fielding percentage (.977). Clemson finished 19th in the nation in ERA and 22nd in batting average. The Tigers joined Virginia and Oral Roberts as the only teams to finish in the top 25 in the nation in those two categories.
Caden Grice, the winner of the 2023 John Olerud Two-Way Player-of-the-Year Award, and Billy Amick earned first-team All-America honors. Grice, who was the No. 64 overall pick of the 2023 MLB draft, became the first Tiger in history to either lead the team or tie for the team lead in wins and homers in a season. Amick and Cam Cannarella, the 2023 ACC Freshman-of-the-Year, were First-Team All-ACC selections. Amick (.413) became the first Tiger since Khalil Greene (.470) in 2002 to hit .400 in a season. Cannarella was named a first-team freshman All-American and led the ACC in batting average (.408) in conference games.
Bakich, who was named head coach at Clemson on June 16, 2022 by Director of Athletics Graham Neff, served as head coach at Michigan for 10 seasons from 2013-22, leading the Wolverines to the 2019 College World Series championship series. Bakich also served as a head coach at Maryland (2010-12) and as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt (2003-09) along with his one year as volunteer assistant coach at Clemson in 2002.
Bakich was the consensus national coach of the year in 2019, when he led Michigan to an NCAA runner-up finish and a 50-22 record. It marked the first time since 1966 that a Big Ten Conference team reached the championship game of the College World Series.
He also led Michigan to the NCAA Tournament in 2015, 2017, 2021 and 2022, meaning five of his last seven teams (excluding 2020) advanced to the national tournament. Bakich guided the Wolverines to Big Ten Conference Tournament titles in 2015 and 2022 as well. He joined Rich Maloney as the only Michigan head coaches to win two Big Ten Conference titles over the previous 35 years.
Bakich is no stranger to the ACC, as he served three seasons as head coach at Maryland. In 2012, he led the Terrapins to a 32-24 record, a 15-win improvement from his first season in College Park.
Prior to his three years at Maryland, Bakich was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt under Head Coach Tim Corbin, who was an assistant coach at Clemson from 1994-02. Vanderbilt had a 276-157 record in his seven seasons (2003-09) in Nashville.
Bakich served as recruiting coordinator for the Commodores, helping sign some of the nation’s top recruits, including No. 1 overall draft pick David Price. All seven of his recruiting classes were ranked in the top 25, including the top-rated class in 2005 and the No. 2 class in 2008.
He began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach under Head Coach Jack Leggett and alongside Corbin and Kevin O’Sullivan at Clemson in 2002, when he worked with the Tiger outfielders and infielders. The Tigers had a 54-17 record and advanced to the College World Series with the likes of national player of the year Khalil Greene, Jeff Baker and Michael Johnson, who combined for 77 home runs.
Bakich started his playing career at San Jose (Calif.) City College, then he transferred to East Carolina to play two seasons (1999,00) under late Head Coach Keith LeClair, whom Leggett coached when LeClair played at Western Carolina. The Pirates won back-to-back CAA titles and earned No. 1 seeds in NCAA Regionals both years and was named to the 1999 Baton Rouge Regional all-tournament team. The outfielder hit .315 with 14 home runs, 27 doubles, 85 RBIs, 87 runs and 14 steals in two seasons.
Bakich and Assistant Head Coach Nick Schnabel both wear jersey #23 to honor LeClair, who wore that jersey number as a head coach at East Carolina. LeClair passed away in 2006 after a battle with ALS.
Bakich graduated from East Carolina in 2000 with a degree in exercise & sport science. He then played two years (2000,01) professionally in multiple independent leagues. After his playing career, Bakich returned to East Carolina, where he served as an assistant strength & conditioning coach for one year.
He was born Erik Michael Bakich on Nov. 27, 1977 in San Jose, Calif. He graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose in 1996. He and his wife, Jiffy, have two sons, Colt and Beau, and a daughter, Tempie.
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