On Sunday South Carolina dominated Clemson 8-0 to clinch the series against the Tigers for the 7th straight year. Carolina also won in dominating fashion 6-0 on Friday night in Clemson but dropped the neutral site game on Saturday 6-3.
The Gamecocks shut out the Tigers twice in the series. On Friday series MVP Jordan Montgomery dominated the Tiger bats. He pitched 8 complete innings while only allowing three hits and striking out nine. In the ninth Tyler Webb came in to dominate some more. Webb had been called soft by a forgotten Tiger infielder a few seasons ago. He was anything but on Friday night. He faced three batters, threw 16 pitches and struck out the side.
A disappointing performance on Saturday was redeemed on Sunday. Nolan Belcher, the fifth year senior, took the mound at Carolina Stadium. Belcher had a breakout freshman year, and has been a role player since. An injury took away one year, but even in the other two years he was never as impactful as he had been. Apparently he aims to change that this year. He won the Sunday starting role after a tight battle with freshman Jack Wynkoop.
This Sunday Belcher decimated Clemson. He threw a complete game and shut them out. He allowed three hits and struck out seven. The orange and purple threatened a couple of times but Belcher found ways out of all his jams.
At this point Carolina's dominance in the rivalry is staggering. They have won the season series each of the past 7 seasons. Barring a meltdown in an unlikely rematch in the tournament, this senior class will have never lost a season series to Clemson. The class before them can say the same thing. And the class before them and the class before them.
South Carolina has won 20 of the last 27 games in the series. In fact, the Tigers have only won the season series twice since 1999. Ray Tanner had his way with the school from Pickens, and Chad Holbrook appears poised to continue that tradition.
Some think the major difference in the programs is their approach to the game. In Ray Tanner's last years he became much more relaxed, and his players seemed to thrive in that environment. In the other dugout there is Jack Leggett who often appears uptight and ill at ease. His teams tend to play that way as well. On Sunday Carolina's team could be found dancing in the dugout in between a couple of innings while the Tigers looked dour most of the afternoon. Is that the difference in the rivalry? I'm not sure, but as long as we keep dominating, I'm not sure I care.