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#13 South Carolina Gamecocks vs Clemson Tigers: Rivalry Weekend Preview

The undefeated Gamecocks gear up for a rivalry weekend showdown with the Tigers

TheBigSpur

It's time again for one of the best weekends of the year as the Gamecocks and the Tigers get ready to square off in college baseball's best rivalry. This series is highly anticipated every year, both because of the passion involved and because it usually serves as the first real test of the season for each team. This year is no different, as people are eager to find out whether two teams that were down last year but are playing well early this season can sustain a high level of play as they face each other this weekend.

Despite last year's series loss, Carolina has dominated the rivalry recently. The Gamecocks are 25-13 against the Tigers in the last ten seasons. In those ten seasons the Gamecocks have only lost the overall season series twice (in 2006 and 2015) and the two teams split their four games in 2009. In 2010 the Gamecocks lost the regular season series but then this happened, followed by this, and Clemson had to watch from home as South Carolina capped things off with this.

High-stakes postseason meetings like those in 2010 and things like Jack Leggett's discovery of a diabolical bat-warming scheme accusations of cheating by a hated Clemson coach have fanned the flames of the rivalry for several years. The misfortunes of both teams over the last couple of seasons have not dampened those flames for the fans or the players. Even if, as Holbrook said Thursday, this weekend "doesn't dictate the rest of the season," it does matter tremendously.

The 9-0 Gamecocks enter this weekend's series fresh off of a 6-3 road win at The Citadel. Meanwhile, Clemson is 6-1 on the season under new head coach Monte Lee. The Tigers dropped their season opener to Maine, but won on Saturday and Sunday to take the series. The Tigers then beat James Madison in their second series of the season and won 7-0 against Wofford on Tuesday. Friday night's game in Columbia will be the first road game of the season for Clemson.

South Carolina Clemson
Batting Average .341 .324
On-Base % .446 .428
Slugging % .459 .477
ERA 1.67 1.86
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 3.45 2.96
Fielding % .975 .977

Despite Clemson having a loss while the Gamecocks are undefeated, the teams look fairly evenly-matched based on the season so far. Both teams have an offense that has powered them to a few big blowout victories and strong pitching to back it up. In fact, both teams have an ERA in the top 15 in the country with Clemson coming in at 12th and the Gamecocks tied for 8th. One point in Carolina's favor is that the Tigers don't have anyone that's hitting like John Jones. Of course, not very many teams do, as Jones leads the country with a .690 OBP, is 4th in the country with 19 RBI, and has a .581 batting average that is the 8th best in the country.

The Gamecocks will stick with the pitching rotation that they used the first two weekends of the season. That means that sophomore Clarke Schmidt will take the mound with his 0.69 ERA on Friday. Freshman Braden Webb, who has a 1.80 ERA, will get the start on Saturday. And junior Taylor Widener, with a 1.86 ERA, will be the starter for Sunday's series finale.

On Friday the Gamecocks will face Clemson sophomore lefty Charlie Barnes. He has an ERA of 2.38 this season. Clate Schmidt, who has a 3.00 ERA and is the brother of Gamecocks pitcher Clarke Schmidt, will start for the Tigers on Saturday. While not having Clate go up against his brother directly does take away some fun storylines, it also eliminates the potential confusion of having a C. Schmidt on the mound for both teams. The Sunday starter for the Tigers is TBA.

Game 1, Friday

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Founders Park (Columbia, SC)

How to Watch: SEC Network Plus

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game

Game 2, Saturday

When: 2:30 p.m.

Where: Fluor Field (Greenville, SC)

How to Watch: ESPN3

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game

Game 3, Sunday

When: 2 p.m.

Where: Doug Kingsmore Stadium (Clemson, SC)

How to Watch: ESPN3

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game