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Dave Serrano Takes In Clemson/South Carolina For The First Time

Dave Serrano has plenty of experience coaching in rivalries, whether at Tennessee, Cal State Fullerton or UC Irvine.

But rarely does a coach or player get a chance to experience other rivalries in season. So Serrano, the 2007 Coach of the Year, is taking in the sights and sounds this year -- his first as a college baseball analyst at Baseball America.

This week, he took in Clemson vs. South Carolina, one of the best rivalries in college sports.

South Carolina took two of three from Clemson and vaulted into our College Top 25 for the first time this season, settling at No. 20, while Clemson dropped from 14th to 21st. The two teams played in three different venues this weekend, too, starting at Clemson on Friday, then heading to Greenville on Saturday (home of the Greenville Drive) before finishing at South Carolina on Sunday.

It was a chance for Serrano to see two of the countries better teams and also the unique atmosphere. Here's what he saw...

On the loss of South Carolina ace Carmen Mlodzinski, who suffered a foot injury this weekend...

“That’s going to hurt the Gamecocks as it goes on. The depth isn’t as great as it usually is for that program. I think they’re going to scramble to try and fill that spot.”

On Clemson's pitching woes...

“Clemson has to clean up their starting pitching too. Davis Sharpe was the best and he went the deepest of any of their starters and that was on only 3 2/3 (innings). I don’t think any program could go into a weekend series and have the deepest their starting pitching go is 3 2/3 (innings). I think Clemson has some work on that side. But boy was I impressed with their bullpen.”

On the atmosphere...

“There was 21,000 people that attended the three games combined. It was a great crowd. I anticipated a little bit more raucous atmosphere than I saw … I didn’t see the hostility, the hatred in the stands. I saw both teams cheering for their respective teams. It’s hard to compare the other atmospheres because I’ve only played in some. I haven’t seen the Mississippi’s or the Ole Miss. I haven’t seen the Longhorns play the Aggies of Texas A&M. I walked away a little surprised there wasn’t a little more hostility in the stands … I didn’t see a lot of badgering going back and forth. I don’t know what went on on the message boards before the series. But in the stands I thought they kept it pretty clean.”

Comparing it to other rivalries...

“I have been part of the Cal State Fullerton/Long Beach State. We never attracted as many fans as Clemson/South Carolina. But I’d say there’s probably a little bit more hatred and bantering going on in the stands when I was a part of the Fullerton/Long Beach State series than what I saw this weekend. I went in and out throughout the stands, walked the stands, talked to people. There is partial toward their Gamecocks or Tigers. But there wasn’t a hatred that I thought. I think it’s more of a respect … There may be more jealousy than hatred when it comes to covering these schools.”

On the loudest moment...

“The loudest the crowd got during the three-game series was in a fun moment in between innings. The game management had a tug of war in between innings. They had people in (Clemson’s colors) and people in South Carolina’s. That’s the loudest the crowd got cheering for each of their teams. The Clemson Tigers won that tug of war.”

Kevin Parada Billmitchell

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