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New Clemson coach understands importance of beating Gamecocks

Matt Connolly06/17/22
Article written by:On3 imageMatt Connolly


Erik Bakich
Erik Bakich was introduced as the new Clemson head coach last Thursday. (Clemson Baseball/Twitter)

CLEMSON — Erik Bakich certainly knows his audience.

The new Clemson baseball head coach didn’t waste much time during his introductory press conference Thursday afternoon before getting to a subject that is very important to Tigers fans.

During his opening statement of his first press conference at Clemson, Bakich brought up the rivalry series with South Carolina unprompted.

The Palmetto State rivalry is considered to be one of the best in all of college baseball, although it has slipped out of the national spotlight recently with both programs struggling.

“Another reason to come to Clemson is for the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry,” Bakich said. “We will take this rivalry very seriously and respect it every single day with how we prepare and train.”

Bakich came to Clemson after spending 10 seasons at Michigan — a school that has a very intense rivalry with Ohio State.

However, for the baseball series with the Buckeyes this year, a total of 6,031 fans attended the three games.

For comparison, 8,242 fans attended the Carolina-Clemson game at Founders Park, more than 9,000 were at the neutral site game in Columbia and 6,636 attended the series finale at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

“It’s one of the reasons you come to a school like Clemson is the opportunity to play on the biggest stages and the brightest lights,” Bakich said. “You have to love that. You have to love competing in those types of environments.”

When Clemson and South Carolina meet for their three-game series in 2023, it won’t mark the first time Bakich is on the field coaching against the Gamecocks.

Bakich started his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Clemson in 2002 under former Tigers head coach Jack Leggett.

The Tigers took three of four games against South Carolina in the regular season that year but dropped back-to-back matchups against the Gamecocks in Omaha as their season came to an end.

“I am no stranger to how hostile and how much fun at the same time the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is,” Bakich said. “We will respect that rivalry by preparing for it all year long, and it will be something that we address in the program from Day 1.”