If You Can’t Say Something Nice . . .

OMAHA—Class is sometimes checked at the door when it comes to the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry.

Tigers players had to run a bit of a gauntlet as they emerged from a tunnel connected to their Rosenblatt Stadium dugout, walked through a crowded corridor and into the media room following Friday night's 5-1 loss to the Gamecocks.

"We own you," shouted one Gamecocks fan, his voice rising above several other taunts and jabs.

Apparently, the fan is statistically challenged. Clemson and South Carolina have split the four games they have played this season.

Of course, it could have been a reference to 2002. In a similar situation eight years ago, South Carolina came from the losers' bracket and defeated Clemson in back-to-back games to eliminate the Tigers.

In a postgame press conference, Clemson coach Jack Leggett fielded questions with center fielder Wilson Boyd and second baseman Mike Freeman. Wondering perhaps if history is poised to repeat itself, one journalist asked: "Guys, I know '02 is ancient history. People will talk about it (that) you lost a couple to South Carolina, or Clemson did in the World Series. Cross your mind at all, any factor at all?"

Boyd rolled his eyes as the question was being asked and Leggett tilted his head to the left, then the right as if cracking his neck. Freeman offered up the only response.

"I mean, we weren't here in '02," he said. "I mean, I don't really know exactly the history. I know that they had a really good team in '02 . . . But as far as that goes, that has nothing to do with this College World Series. They beat us tonight. But we've got a game tomorrow and we're going to come out ready to play."

A few items of note heading into Saturday's doubleheader:

• This is the first time since 1988, the first year of the current two-bracket format, that "if necessary" games in are necessary in both brackets. 

•  Four schools still alive are bidding for their first national championship. South Carolina is the only team to play for the title. The Gamecocks have finished runner-up three times, most recently to Texas in 2002 in the last year of the single-game finals.

• No school has ever won—or even played for—Division I championships in softball and baseball in the same season. UCLA won the softball title earlier this month.

• The South Carolina victory over Clemson was the 100th in NCAA tournament play for the Gamecocks, who are 100-56 in the postseason. Clemson is 108-76 in postseason play.

• TCU is the first CWS team to win three games in its first appearance since Georgia Tech in 1994. The last team to win a CWS title in its first appearance was Minnesota in 1956.

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