But things haven't gone as expected. Entering Wednesday night's game against Wofford, D'Alessio was hitting a paltry .229, by far the worst of any regular starter, which prompted Clemson head coach Jack Leggett to start someone else at first base against the Terriers.
However, rather than getting down on himself or Leggett, D'Alessio accepted the demotion and readied himself for whenever Leggett might happen to call on him. That moment came in the bottom of seventh inning, when D'Alessio, who had entered the game in the top half of the inning for defensive purposes, came to bat with the bases loaded with one out.
Moments later, he cranked a pitch well over the fence in left-center field for a grand slam and help lead the Tigers to a 7-1 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Clemson improves to 27-16 overall, while Wofford drops to 14-30.
|Andy D'Alessio's 7th inning grand slam turned a close game into a blowout. D'Alessio is now 5-for-7 this season with the bases loaded, including two grand slams.|
The fact that D'Alessio recognized there was a problem with his hitting and that being replaced in the starting lineup was completely reasonable allowed him to focus on getting better rather than brew about the demotion.
And it all came to a head in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"I made a couple of adjustments today with my swing and I feel a lot better, especially hitting the ball to the opposite field," he said. "I was really happy to see the ball go to the opposite field."
When Leggett saw that ball sail over the fence and bushes, it was what he'd been waiting for all season.
"When he's hitting best, he's hitting the ball left-center," Leggett said. "That's when you know he's on his game. I think it's a pretty good clear indication of whether his swing is where it needs to be. So hopefully it's the beginning of something good this weekend for him."
Earlier, Clemson designated hitter Kris Harvey hit a solo home run, his 16th of the season and the third straight game he's done so. The shot in the fourth gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Pitching wise, the Tigers got the job done by committee, using four pitchers, with none pitching more than three innings. P.J. Zocchi got the start and allowed Wofford's only run.
Chris Howard, who earned the win and improved to 1-0, pitched the next seven outs before being relieved by Jeff Hahn, who went the next five outs, before Daniel Moskos threw the final two innings.
All told, the four pitchers combined to give up one run and six hits.
Up next for the Tigers is seventh-ranked Georgia Tech, which begins a three-game series in Clemson Friday night.