Palmetto Showdown: Tigers and Gamecocks ready for rivalry renewal
|Friday, March 1, 2019, 8:13 AM- -|
CLEMSON – Monte Lee has been on both sides of the Clemson and South Carolina baseball rivalry, and to him, it’s the best rivalry in all of college baseball. To Lee, it’s the college equivalent of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, but with a southern twist.
The archrivals renew acquaintances in a three-game series starting Friday at 6 pm at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The series switches to Greenville’s Fluor Field for a 1 pm pitch Saturday, and the finale will be Sunday at noon at Founder’s Park in Columbia.
Each venue figures to be standing room only.
“I think it’s the best rivalry in all of college baseball. One thing that we sell recruits when they come and visit at Clemson is Clemson, and the University of South Carolina is the Red Sox and the Yankees of the state of South Carolina. That’s just the way it is,” Lee said. “The people of this state, they’re on one side of the fence or the other, and that’s what makes this rivalry so great is everybody across the state is pulling for one of us. It’s very intense. It’s very heated.”
The Tigers have won the season series four years in a row, adding to the intensity of the series.
“It’s like a Super Regional environment,” Lee said. “There’s not going to be any motivational speeches or anything like that because I’m not going to have to do that. Our guys will be ready to go. Our guys are pretty dang competitive. For us, it's just competing every single pitch because the games are so competitive that you don't feel like you're out of it. A lot of times it boils down to one pitch here or there. One inning here or there and whoever capitalizes typically wins the series. We've just been fortunate to be able to capitalize.
“So that's the big thing - don't take a pitch off because it could be the pitch that gets us back in the game or wins the series for us, wins the game for us. Every single pitch matters in this rivalry."
The teams enter the weekend with identical 7-1 records and similar numbers. The Tigers are averaging 8.0 runs per game and hitting .262 with a .403 on-base percentage and 22 steals. The pitching staff has a 3.00 ERA, .182 opponents’ batting average and 4.21 strikeout-to-walk ratio and Clemson is fielding .979.
The Gamecocks are hitting .275 and have a 2.92 ERA and .970 fielding percentage while the pitching staff sports an ERA of 2.92.
Clemson will start senior Brooks Crawford (0-0, 3.60 ERA) Friday, followed by freshman Davis Sharpe (2-0, 0.00 ERA) and fellow freshman Justin Wrobleski (0-1, 6.75 ERA). South Carolina will start sophomore Carmen Mlodzinski (0-0, 4.32 ERA) Friday night in Clemson, with freshman Dylan Harley (0-0, 9.45 ERA) to get the start Saturday in Greenville. Junior Reid Morgan (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will take the mound Sunday afternoon in Columbia.
“Their starting pitching is very good. We’re facing a guy on Friday night who has been up to 94, 95, so he’s got a very good arm,” Lee said. “They’ve got a very talented freshman on Saturday in Harley that’s been up to 94-95. And then they’ve got a guy on Sunday that’s a junior college transfer that really sinks it in the low 90s,” Lee said. “But their bullpen’s very good too. So the bottom line is it’s going to come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes and do we do a good job of locating and executing pitches.”