Let's start with the rotation, the Tiger rotation has been lights out so far this year. While the Gamecocks also have a strong rotation, the edge has to go to Clemson. The bullpen is another story. This is Clemson's weak spot and Carolina's strength. The Gamecocks have an abundance of arms and it should serve the Gamecocks well this weekend and this season. Teams with great bullpens not only keep leads but also enable their team to come from behind. This could point to more late inning comeback heroics this weekend for the Gamecocks.
Defense has also been an issue for the Tigers, especially in the games with the Gamecocks. Clemson's defense is supposed to be greatly improved from last season but so far that has not been the case. Clemson has already made 11 errors this season in seven games. The Gamecocks have made just 5 errors this year. The Gamecocks appear to have a superb infield defense. This was one of the trademarks of the teams that won it all in 2010 and 2011. While the Gamecocks had a few issues the last couple of years, it was the regression of the infield defense that was most glaring. Those issues appear to be fixed with this 2015 team.
Better bullpen and better defense have been the ingredients to dominating Clemson since 2010. It appears that the Gamecocks have those ingredients again this year which should make for a successful weekend. A word of caution though, Clemson is a very talented team. D1Baseball picked Clemson as their ACC Omaha sleeper. This is what they had to say about Clemson:
Clemson underachieved with a talented roster in 2014, sneaking into the NCAA tournament as one of the final teams in the field and going 0-2 in the Nashville Regional. The Tigers haven’t won a regional since their 2010 trip to Omaha, so this is an important season for coach Jack Leggett’s program. Clemson has the talent to make a deep postseason run if its sophomores and juniors progress as hoped. The Tigers should be outstanding defensively up the middle, with a premium defensive catcher (Chris Okey), an athletic playmaker at second base (Eli White), a rangy shortstop whose arm should benefit from offseason surgery (Tyler Krieger) and a speedy, instinctive, aggressive center fielder (Tyler Slaton). Sophomores Okey, White and 3B Weston Wilson all look poised to take major steps forward offensively after adding strength, and Wilson reminds the coaching staff of former Tiger and first-round pick Richie Shaffer. Clemson also expects key contributions from 1B Andrew Cox and smooth-swinging DH Reed Rohlman. The centerpiece of the lineup is RF Steven Duggar, who is growing into power and posted a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. LF Chase Pinder, the brother of former Virginia Tech star Chad Pinder, is a gamer with a knack for producing hard line drives to all fields, and he could hit the ground running. On the mound, Clemson should have a reliable pair of lefties atop the rotation in Matthew Crownover and Zack Erwin, who both feature advanced feel for three pitches. RHPs Jake Long and Clate Schmidt will battle for the No. 3 starter spot; both have plenty of arm strength and are working to improve their command and consistency. RHPs Drew Moyer, Clay Bates and Patrick Andrews (back from Tommy John surgery) give the Tigers a trio of power arms to anchor the bullpen.
Prediction: Carolina wins two of three including one dramatic late inning comeback.