Charlie Barnes, who will start on the mound tonight when No. 1 Clemson faces No. 2 Vanderbilt in the winner’s game of the Clemson Regional at 7 p.m., has never faced the Commodores, but he is pretty familiar with them.
Why? That’s because watching Vanderbilt play is like watching the Clemson Tigers he grew up watching when he was a small boy in Sumter, S.C. They have great pitching. They play a lot of small ball and they are very aggressive on the base pads … all trademarks of former head coach Jack Leggett.
Even Vandy head coach Tim Corbin looks like Leggett.
“We always say that Coach Corbin is the spitting image of Coach Leggett,” said Barnes, who was recruited to Clemson by Leggett and pitched for him there during his freshman year.
And so too is Corbin’s baseball team.
“They definitely have bunch of similarities,” Barnes said.
Corbin coached under Leggett at Clemson from 1994-2002, and was his associate head coach the last two years. Four times he helped Leggett lead the Tigers to the College World Series and along the way they became best friends, which they still are today.
“Coach Leggett speaks very highly of him when he talked about him when he was here,” Barnes said. “Coach (Bradley) LeCroy obviously knows him, and I think all of our coaches know him, but they speak really highly of him and I have only heard good things about him from playing summer ball with kids from Vandy to other coaches talking. I have only heard really good things.”
In his 15 years as the head coach at Vanderbilt, Corbin has turned the Commodores into a national power. They won the 2014 National Championship, were runner-ups in 2015 and have participated in multiple College World Series while winning 466 games in the last 10 years.
In their 13-3 victory over St. John’s on Friday in Game 1 of the Clemson Regional, Leggett’s influence was all over the field at Doug Kingsmore Stadium as the Commodores small-balled the Red Storm too death. They had five stolen bases and 18 hits, but just two of those 18 hits went for extra bases.
“I think their coaching styles are extremely similar, obviously with him coaching under Coach Leggett. That is probably why,” Barnes said.