South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks win mid-week; Clemson rivalry series preview

South Carolina baseball beat Gardner-Webb on Tuesday, and the Gamecocks now get ready to take on the rival Clemson Tigers this weekend.

South Carolina baseball third baseman Talmadge LeCroy against Clemson in 2022.
South Carolina baseball third baseman Talmadge LeCroy against Clemson in 2022. / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

South Carolina baseball suffered their first loss of the season this past weekend during a series win over the Belmont Bruins. They bounced back to win in the mid-week, though, knocking off the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs 7-1.

In the game against Gardner-Webb, the bats were quiet in the first four innings as the Bulldogs were leading 1-0 heading into the bottom of the 5th. The Gamecock bats awoke with a 7-run explosion in the 5th.

Carolina manufactured some runs before Gavin Casas blasted a 3-run home run (immediately following chirping from the GW dugout in which a player screamed "Get in the box, Casas!") way out of Founders Park.

A nice effort from freshman starting pitcher Eddie Copper and scoreless relief work from Ty Good, Tyler Dean, and Connor McCreary kept the Gardner-Webb offense at bay the entire game.

South Carolina baseball fans hope that the elite pitching and big 5th inning will propel them to a rivalry series win over the Clemson Tigers this weekend.

Clemson has not pitched particularly well this season, though, several Tiger relievers have been very effective in limited duty.

Where Erik Bakich's team has excelled is with the bats. Every primary starter has hit a home run, and they've slugged nearly .600 as a team. Whereas only two Gamecocks (Cole Messina and Ethan Petry) have multiple long balls, there are five Tigers who have hit the ball over the fence more than once.

Will Taylor had struggled offensively but exploded with a 3-homer day against USC-Upstate on Tuesday to break out of his slump. Shortstop Andrew Ciufo has been good with the bat but already has committed 5 errors this year. Outfielder Cam Cannarella has been a star so far for the Tigers, hitting over .500 on the season.

Like the Gamecocks, the Tigers don't steal bases often, but unlike Carolina, Clemson is just an average team in terms of getting on base via walks. South Carolina is among the nation's leaders in bases on balls.

South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston has not announced his starting pitchers, but in both weekend series so far this season, the Gamecocks have rolled out a rotation of Eli Jones, Dylan Eskew, and Roman Kimball. Those three likely will be on the bump again against Clemson, but if there is a change, Matthew Becker likely would be the one to slot in somewhere into the rotation, potentially for Eskew.

Similarly, Clemson's starting rotation has not been revealed either. However, the Tigers utilized a rotation of Billy Barlow, Tristan Smith, and Aidan Knaak have pitched both weekends to start the year. Smith has been the best of the three.

The three games of the series will be played in three different locations. Friday's opener is a home game for the Gamecocks at Founders Park and will begin at 7:00 PM EST. Game 2 is a neutral site game (one in which Clemson is the home team) but will be played in Columbia at Segra Park (home of the Minor League Columbia Fireflies) at 4:00 PM EST. The series finale will move to the upstate, and the Gamecocks and Tigers will have first pitch at Doug Kingsmore Stadium at 2:00 PM EST. Game 1 will be broadcast on the SEC Network+, and the other two contests will be on the ACC Network.

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