Final reactions to Game 2 aside, congrats to the Tigers for finding a way to win. Here are the Key Matchups, what this game means, and my prediction.
Lefty vs. Lefties- Adam Westmoreland will get the start for Game 3 against the Tigers, and as proven from the first 2 games, having a lefty on the mound for us can be great. As Michael Roth demonstrated, a LHP that has his stuff working can shutdown the predominantly left-handed lineup that is Clemson. If Westmoreland can be as efficient as Roth was, he will be able to limit Clemson's lefties, and there really isnt enough Righties in their lineup to offset that advantage. But if he is off his game and throws with the accuracy (or lack there of) that Webb threw with in Game 2, it could be another loss. This is, by far the most important matchup of the game.
6, 7, 8, 9 vs. Clemson pitchers- We seen first hand in Game 2 what can happen if only half our lineup creates 100% of our offense. When 4 consecutive batters have an 0'fer (regardless of where they bat) you are going to struggle to amount any kind of threatening offense. This is what happened in Game 2, as the first 5 batters in our lineup accounted for all 5 hits (2 of which came from one batter, and 2 of the 5 hits were solo homers). If we are to win more than we lose, we have to have more consistency throughout all 9 spots of the batting order. Needless to say the 6-9 spot hitters have something to prove tomorrow night in Greenville and beyond.
South Carolina defense vs.... Themselves- This one is a no brainer, and one that must get straightened out very quickly, the SEC season is right around the corner. The Gamecock defense virtually beat themselves on Sunday, yielding 4 errors which lengthened innings and 3 wild pitch/passed balls that also gave Clemson cat style lives. A very simple thing to clean up, hopefully, since were talking about a team that prided themselves last year on not beating themselves.
In the long run, this game means little to absolutely nothing... but you can go around the state and ask any Gamecock fan what this game means, and the answer is a resounding "WHOLE HELLUVA LOT". Whether you are a true baseball fan or not, you have to realize these 2 teams are perennial powers around the nation, and to claim that bragging rights against your rival for the season is glorious. Realistically though, this game means absolutely nothing in the big picture, Carolina has proven twice that point in the CWS, the most recent memory of those going on to claim the National Title.
My prediction for this game comes down to one simple question... Do I believe the perfect storm can strike twice? My answer is no, at least not this quickly. Carolina's greatest strength last season, was that they answered a loss very well, perhaps better than any team in the nation. This is evidenced by the fact they never went on a losing streak throughout the entire season. For that fact and that fact alone I believe Carolina will prevail in what I fully expect to be another nail biting, heart pounding, "OMG DID YOU SEE THAT PLAY" game again (what else can we expect from these 2 teams???).
Carolina- 5 Clemson- 3