South Carolina Baseball: Clemson Series Preview, How to Watch
It’s “Rivalry Week,” “Clemson Hate Week,” “The Weekend Series against that Team from the Upstate.” South Carolina baseball takes on the Clemson Tigers this weekend in college baseball’s best rivalry (sorry Ole Miss and Mississippi State). The games will be streamable with Friday night’s road game in Clemson having its 6:00 first pitch on the ACCNetwork Extra and ESPN App, Game 2 on Saturday in Greenville being on the SECNetwork+ and ESPN App at 1:00, and the series final on Sunday at home at 1:30 on the SECNetwork+ and ESPN App.
In the history of the rivalry, the series favors the home team, and the 25 neutral site matchups have been split at 13-12. Clemson holds the edge over the entire duration of the two teams’ existences, but South Carolina has won more in the modern era. Both teams have made numerous trips to Omaha for the College World Series (11 to 10 in favor of the Gamecocks), but only South Carolina has brought home the trophy (twice in a row in 2010 and 2011).
The two teams have combined for exactly 500 drafted players and have over 100 former players who have made it all the way to the Bigs. Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson and Founder’s Park (and formerly Sarge Frye Field) in Columbia are among the best and most well-known stadiums in all of college baseball. Legendary coaches like Ray Tanner, Jack Leggett, June Rains, and Bill Wilhelm have manned the dugouts, and college baseball superstars Justin Smoak, Khalil Greene, Kip Bouknight, Seth Beer, and Michael Roth have wowed fans with their talent on the diamond.
This truly is the best rivalry in the game.
For this weekend, South Carolina rides into the series with an undefeated 9-0 record. They lead the country in home runs and have pitched very well up to this point. In short, the Gamecocks have played amazing baseball to being the 2023 season. The story is not the same for the Tigers, as they have lost 4 straight to bring their record to 4-4 including an embarrassing home sweep at the hands of the UCF Knights that saw the Orlando-based team troll the Tigers after a lopsided win on Sunday. The Tigers’ offense has been good (even though they have not seen many balls leave the yard), but the pitching has struggled as they have given up 38 runs in their last 5 outings.
The Gamecock offense has six different players who have hit multiple home runs this season, including five that have hit at least four dingers. This contrasts sharply with Clemson’s paltry total of seven long balls this season.
As history shows, one can almost throw all of that out. Sure, South Carolina is the better team in 2023, but in this rivalry, that matters very little. As long as both teams have talent (which they do), anything can happen. The better team does not always win this series, and it makes for a much more intriguing weekend. There is a chance for some bad weather this weekend, so here’s hoping that there is not a dampener (literally or figuratively) put on the rivalry fire.
Former Clemson Head Coach Monte Lee is now an assistant at South Carolina, a role he had several years before taking the top job in the Upstate. Despite only having one bad year in seven seasons at the helm in Clemson, the fans of the orange and white seem to hold some bitterness toward Lee that is only compounded by his return to garnet and black (and the three transfers that went with him). Two teams that play with lots of emotion will surely have the Monte Lee storyline in mind this weekend.
Clemson has had to change their weekend rotation as Friday night starter Ryan Ammons (and the only productive starter this season for the Tigers) will not be able to go. Austin Gordon, previously the Saturday guy for Head Coach Erik Bakich, will pitch Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and freshman Tristan Smith will make his first-ever collegiate start on Saturday in Greenville. Clemson’s Sunday starter is currently listed as “TBA.” The Gamecocks will continue to roll with their star-studded group of Will Sanders, Noah Hall, and Jack Mahoney, presumably in that order.
In rivalry play, things happen. However, these two teams seem to be headed in opposite directions. The Carolina bats are scalding to the touch, and the Tigers haven’t pitched well. This seems like a recipe for success for the Gamecocks.
For the third straight season, there will be a sweep (South Carolina swept in 2021, Clemson swept in 2022), but this time, the South Carolina baseball team will be the triumphant group. Carolina wins all three games in this series, two in blowouts. Head Coach Mark Kingston continues improving his job security, and Assistant Coach Monte Lee is vindicated as the offense that he coaches will deliver a clear message that the Gamecocks are the premier baseball program in the Palmetto State.