Clemson series important for Cougars

Marty Gantt hopes to help the College of Charleston beat Clemson for the first time ever.

There is a lot on the line for the College of Charleston baseball team as the Cougars travel to face Clemson in a three-game series that begins today at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

Both schools are trying to shore up their arguments for at-large bids to the NCAA tournament. The Cougars (31-13) are No. 28 in the NCAA RPI while the Tigers (26-19) are at No. 33.

On top of that, it will be an opportunity for the Cougars to end a long era of futility. The College of Charleston has never beaten Clemson in baseball.

“We’re sitting at 31 wins and they are an ACC school, so we’d really like to go up there and show people how good a baseball team we are,” said Cougars senior center fielder Marty Gantt. “I believe it’s good for our team. We are playing good at the end of the year, so it’s good competition to prepare us for our conference tournament and, hopefully, our regional.”

One thing that makes this weekend’s battle unusual is that it is a three-game series, whereas most meetings between Southern Conference and ACC schools are mid-week contests. And that means both schools will be facing their opponents’ top pitchers.

“Playing Clemson is a good test for anybody. It definitely will test us as far as how good our pitching is and can we score runs off a quality ACC opponent,” said Cougars coach Monte Lee. “It will be in a tough environment where the crowds are going to be big. It will be a regional-type atmosphere for our guys and that’s a good thing. We need to be in that kind of environment and we need to be tested.”

Lee said the rare weekend series came about because both schools had open weekends, and the reason it is Saturday-Monday versus Friday-Sunday was to accommodate Clemson’s exam schedule.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for our program to play a three-game series against one of the top-20 programs in the country like Clemson,” Lee said. “You’re playing a perennial top-20 program and you’re playing on their home field. I just hope our guys go up there and play confident and are competitive with Clemson and let the chips fall where they may.”

While the Cougars have never beaten the Tigers in baseball, the schools disagree on the series record. Clemson lists 21 wins, while the College of Charleston says it is 0-15 against Clemson. The last meeting came on May 12, 2009, with the Tigers taking a 5-2 win in College of Charleston coach Monte Lee’s first season. … Clemson ace Kevin Brady is out two to four weeks with a hamstring strain he suffered at Georgia Tech last weekend. Reliever Matt Campbell also is out. … Dominic Leone (6-3, 5.53 ERA) and Kevin Pohle (4-2, 3.31 ERA) are scheduled to start today and Sunday for the Tigers, while a Monday pitcher has not been named. … The Cougars’ rotation will be Christian Powell (7-2, 2.20 ERA), Josh Renfro (6-3, 3.47 ERA) and Matt Pegler (6-2, 2.93 ERA).