The USC-Clemson rivalry has always been “heated”, but baseball has now potentially reached an all-time high.
When Clemson head coach Jack Leggett questioned whether or not USC batters were heating their bats before stepping to the plate, the weekend series went from being a friendly rivalry to a heavyweight cagematch. Accusing any opposing team of cheating is severe. Accusing your arch-rival of cheating is a whole other can of worms.
USC skipper Ray Tanner was offended by the accusations, and held nothing back during his post-game press conference Tuesday night:
Jack Leggett called Tanner Wednesday morning to work things out. Later in the day Leggett held a teleconference rehashing the long weekend:
With the two veteran coaches putting this incident in the rearview mirror, Tanner joined us on SportsTalk Wednesday night for a closing interview:
The Gamecocks won the series 2 games to 1 over the Tigers in dramatic fashion Tuesday night. Clemson led much of the game 1-0 before USC pinch hitter Jake Williams bombed a three run homer in the bottom of the 7th. Two other individual runs made the score 5-1 going into the 9th when Clemson made one final rally. The Tigers scored one off Michael Roth and two more off Matt Price before pinch hitter Jon McGibbon struck-out looking to end the ballgame.
USC improved to 9-1 on the season, while the Tigers fell to 7-3. The weekend felt more like a NCAA Tournament Super Regional matchup than a warmup before conference play. This may have been just a preview to another post-season showdown.