The unrest is understandable among Clemson fans.
Two very different sports – and there’s been two very similar results, in baseball and football, between Clemson and South Carolina.
Since 2009, the Gamecocks have won 19-of-24 in the two sports over Clemson, which are hard to argue the two most revered between both fanbases.
What should be understood is the Gamecocks have had two very good programs in both in that span – Clemson too, but obviously not quite as good in those 24 contests.
For his team’s part in it, Jack Leggett scoffed at the numbers.
“You guys are wanting to keep track of all that stuff and get excited about it,” he said after Saturday’s 10-2 loss to the Gamecocks at Fluor Field. “I’m just interested in how our team plays and how we finish at the end of the year. How we play against South Carolina is very important for us, but at the same time it isn’t going to dictate the rest of our season one way or the other.
“Proud of our program and our fans should be proud of our program.”
Tensions built late in the 3-hour and 18-minute affair Saturday, as USC’s Marcus Mooney went spikes first into Clemson third baseman Jay Baum on an awkward play in the ninth, where USC had just taken a 10-2 lead. Baum had a few words and gestures to send Mooney’s way – and Mooney, teammate Elliott Caldwell and third base coach Sammy Esposito had a few back. Umpires and teammates broke it up before it became a dubious part of the rivalry’s lore.
There’s been just about nothing pretty out of the first two in the three-game, three-site series for the Tigers.
19 South Carolina runs. 23 South Carolina hits. Oh, and eight Clemson errors, resulting in eight unearned runs.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks haven’t allowed a run from the sixth inning on, limiting the Tigers to three hits combined over the final four frames of each game. They have committed three errors, but Clemson has only capitalized once on them.
USC coach Chad Holbrook says they are playing with confidence, but that has even seen its ups-and-downs in the wins.
“I would like them to be confident,” said Holbrook. “You work hard. If you feel good about yourself, you’re a confident player. For the middle innings, I didn’t feel much confidence in our hitters. (Zack) Erwin was stuffing us. The ebb and flow of the game – the game produces a range of emotions. We feel like we’re on top of the world when we score five. In the middle innings I didn’t feel really good.
“We know we can pitch and play defense. We tell our guys if we can score four or five runs – we’re going to have a chance to win. They feel that in the dugout.”
Clemson looks to salvage a top-five win out of the series at home today at 4 p.m. with junior right-hander Jake Long (1-0) on the mound. They take on back-to-back SEC freshman of the week pitcher Wil Crowe, who has thrown 12 2/3 scoreless innings so far.
The run support Long received last week – nine in the first three innings – is the goal, but they’re aiming for more timely hits as much as anything.
“We just couldn’t quite get the big hit when we needed it,” said Leggett. “(Friday) we had a little bit of a problem of it. We just allowed the big inning. The two big innings the last two games have bothered us.
“We just have to go back to work. We have a good baseball team and they have a good baseball team and we have a lot of baseball to go.”