Clemson’s S.C. natives aim to turn around baseball rivalry with Gamecocks
02/27/2014 9:36 PM
02/27/2014 9:38 PM
Clemson ace Daniel Gossett knows the score both personal and team-wise in the rivalry series with South Carolina.
The junior right-hander (1-0) will take the mound in Columbia on Friday opposite Gamecocks junior lefty Jordan Montgomery (2-0) for a 7 p.m. first pitch.
Last season, they faced off in TigerTown in what shaped up to be a classic.
Montgomery held Clemson scoreless on two hits, while Gossett contained South Carolina to a run on three hits through six innings.
An error in the top of the seventh opened the floodgates for the Gamecocks, however, for three unearned runs off Gossett. Meanwhile, Montgomery continued to keep Clemson off the scoreboard in eight shutout frames.
“I faced him in high school and a couple years in college,” Gossett said. “I’ve always been on the wrong side of it so, hopefully, we’ll try to go up there and change a little something.”
As S.C. natives, they weren’t always in opposite dugouts.
Gossett played on an all-star team while in high school with the Sumter product, alongside part two of the Clemson battery, junior catcher Garrett Boulware. They dreamed about games like the stage they’ll have this weekend for one in the Midlands and two in the Upstate.
“We were all just waiting to see what would happen down the road,” Boulware said, “and now we’re here. It’s weird. It’s surreal. It’s going to be pretty crazy to see ‘Goose’ and Montgomery on the mound (together again).”
Almost half of No. 11 Clemson’s roster hails from the Palmetto State (18), and the numbers are similar for the third-ranked Gamecocks (17).
“It’s always you grow up a Clemson fan or a South Carolina fan in South Carolina,” sophomore right fielder Steven Duggar said, who takes a team-leading 16 game hitting streak in. “It’s going to be a good time for sure. We’re just excited to get it going.”
Gossett is a prime example of that either/or.
“I grew up being a Clemson fan and I was always invested in the South Carolina-Clemson series,” he said. “After I pitch on Friday, I get Saturday and Sunday to be a kid again. I get to sit back and watch awesome baseball.”
Gossett has plenty of friends who will be wearing garnet and black this weekend, but the dynamic changes when they get on the field. The Tigers recognize the same goes for the stands.
“There’s hatred,” Boulware said. “People are angry. They want to win so bad that they’re going at each other’s throats. Not even us on the field, I grew up playing those guys. Personally I don’t have any problem with the players I’m playing against, but just South Carolina as a whole.
“The South Carolina fans versus the Clemson fans, it’s another game and everyone is wanting to win so bad. Everyone is going after each other. It’s going to be pretty crazy.”
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