Rivals scheduled to meet today for first time this academic year in big-three sports
The Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is one of the most heated in college athletics. There is no love lost between the two rivals who battle for bragging rights in every sport in the Palmetto State.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had other plans for all of us this past year, preventing the annual grudge matches in two of the big-three sports between the Tigers and Gamecocks. The Clemson-Carolina Football game was canceled by the SEC this past season—the first time that has happened after 111 straight meetings—while the men’s and women’s basketball games were canceled due to COVID-19 pauses.
The last time Clemson and Carolina met in an athletic competition involving the big-three sports—football, basketball and baseball—came on the baseball diamond last year, just before the pandemic hit.
“I have not even thought about that,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said earlier this week.
Depending on the weather, that should end today when the Tigers and Gamecocks meet at Greenville’s Fluor Field for a 4 p.m., first pitch. Mother Nature delayed the start of the three-game series by forcing Friday’s game to be postponed due to inclement weather in the Clemson area. Friday’s game was moved to May 11, where the two rivals will play at 6 p.m., at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Columbia.
But today will be the first opportunity for the two long-time rivals to play this season and Lee says there is not any extra pressure because the football and basketball teams did not get to play each other in this academic year.
“I don’t think there is any more weight on us because of the football and basketball situation. It is always a big deal,” Lee said. “I think it is always a series that the state of South Carolina, the fans in our state from both schools, looks forward to this weekend. The players look forward to this weekend. The coaches look forward to this weekend.
“It is the greatest rivalry in college baseball, in my opinion. We always look forward to it and it is an exciting (weekend) regardless of the circumstances.”
Clemson (3-0) leads the all-time series against the Gamecocks 181-141-2 and has won five of the last six three-game series between the two. However, South Carolina (4-0) is ranked No. 16 in the country and has started off the season by crushing the baseball.
The Tigers, by the way, are ranked No. 22.
“We are pumped. We think it is one of the best rivalries in the country and one of the best series in the country and we look forward to it every year,” said pitcher Mat Clark, who helped the Tigers’ win the rubber match in last year’s series. “Being an in-state guy, it means a little bit more. We are getting ready to go this week and we are looking forward to this weekend.”
The two rivals will meet on Sunday as well in Columbia. First pitch for Sunday’s game at Founders Park is set for 1:30 p.m.
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