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Gamecocks Seek Redemption in Weekend Series with Clemson


After a 15-0 trouncing of the Presbyterian College Blue Hose (1-7) on Wednesday, the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-2) will take on their (our {everyones's}) hated rival this weekend beginning Friday at 6:30. The Gamecocks should be riding high on confidence after Wednesday's match in which five USC pitchers combined to allow just two hits and Carolina batters pounded out an impressive 18 hits of their own. Starter Nolan Belcher (1-0) had a stong five inning outing in which he allowed one hit and struck out seven.

Carolina got off to a hot start, scoring 8 runs in the second inning - all with two outs. Junior oufielder Whit Merrifield extended his hit streak to 21 games dating back to last year, and added his second career grand slam in the sixth inning for good measure. Jackie Bradley, Jr. got his first start of the season in center field, going 2-4. All-in-all, just what the doctor ordered for Carolina before heading into an important series this weekend.

Clemson preview after the jump.

This year's series with Clemson differs from years' past in that each team will have one home game with the third match being played at Fluor Field in Greenville. South Carolina is 9-3 vs. Clemson over the last three years, so there is reason to expect that the Gamecocks can enjoy some success this weekend.

Carolina's staff ERA now sits at a stingy 2.63. The team is hitting .309, lead by Scott Wingo(!) at .462. Scott Wingo, you may remember, is on a personal quest to be hit by more balls than the fat kid in dodgeball. He added two to his talley on Wednesday to tie the school record of 34. The Gamecocks have nine players currently hitting at or above .300: Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.600), Scott Wingo (.462), Kyle Enders (.450), Brady Thomas (.400), Robert Beary (.360), Whit Merrifield (.333), Jeffery Jones (.333), Christian Walker (.323), and Adrian Morales (.300).

Clemson comes into the series fresh off a less-than-stellar outing against Dayton in which they needed three wild pitches in the 10th inning to score the winning run. Then again, Clemson holds a 7-0 record. The Tigers' team ERA is 2.67 and their team batting average is .304 to date. Kyle Parker and his nice pants leads all Clemson hitters with a .464 AVG, 4 HR, .893 SLG%, and a .531 OB%. So yeah, he figures to be a tough out.

Carolina's Friday starter, Blake Cooper, will certainly have his work cut out for him. The senior from Neeses, SC is 1-1 all time vs. Clemson, and I am sure he'd like to tip that number in favor of the good guys. As you can tell from the stats this series should be evenly matched. Even so, Carolina has put up great numbers against Clemson in the past when the teams looked similar on paper. I think the fact that the Gamecocks have to travel first will help them this time around. If they can win the first game out of the gate, they'll be in the catbird seat for the games at Carolina Stadium and Flour Field. This series should look a lot like last weekend's against ECU, although this time with a better outcome, hopefully. Expect low-scoring games that will come down to the final three innings.

Prediction: Right now I expect the Gamecocks to take 2 of 3 from the Tigers. The key will be how both teams respond to the new home-home-nuetral set up. I have to give Carolina the edge because 1) they've played a tougher schedule so far, including a series at a top 25 team, 2) Carolina has dominated the series as of late, and 3) I am a giant homer when it comes to Gamecock baseball. Honestly, though, these teams are so even that a sweep by either would not be all that surprising either. With any luck, the baseball Gods will favor us this weekend. Go Cocks!

Game Times:

Friday:      @ Clemson      6:30

Saturday:  @ Fluor Field   2:00

Sunday:    @ Columbia     2:00


The Stamford Advocate