The "Road to Omaha" truly begins in South Carolina this weekend as the Clemson Tigers (5-2) square off against the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1) in a three-game series at three different sites this weekend. Game times are 6:30 PM on Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, SC, 2:00 PM on Saturday at Fluor Field in Greenville, SC, and 3:00 PM on Sunday at Carolina Stadium in Columbia, SC.
The No. 7 Gamecocks have had the upper-hand in this rivalry of late as evidenced by South Carolina winning two of three regular season games last year and then two in the postseason. Also USC has won four games in a row at Carolina Stadium and eight games in a row in the series away from Tigertown. But it is a new year and a new baseball game, so here are some things to watch for:
- USC Swagger. Got to have it since you can claim ownership of your rival of late and can say “back-to-back” national champs.
- A bat warming reference. You know it will come up as it is chilly this weekend so count how many times you hear the reference.
- Will the Tigers be able to hit against Jordan Montgomery? In game-one, South Carolina will start sophomore lefthander Jordan Montgomery (2-0, 1.64 ERA) on the mound. The Sumter, SC native has made two starts for a total of 11.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 10 hits (.233 opponents’ batting average) and five walks with 10 strikeouts.
- In Game 2, will USC run the ERA of Clemson’s Clate Schmidt? The freshman right-hander Clate Schmidt boasts a 0.00 ERA in a total of 6.2 innings pitched.
- Will LB Dantzler keep pace? Dantzler is hitting .542 with two doubles, three homers, 13 RBIs, eight runs, and a .625 on-base percentage. USC needs this production to continue.
- Will Webb yield a run to Clemson? Senior lefthander Tyler Webb has three of the team’s four saves and has not allowed a run in 3.2 innings pitched over four relief appearances.
- The contest at Fluor field will likely decided the winner…one gets it? The Tigers have played 14 games at the ballpark since 2007 and are 11-3. Yet Clemson’s Coach Leggett is 0-7 in neutral-site contest versus USC.
So watch out for these seven things this weekend. It will be a great baseball series and let’s hope USC can win out (again).