This means war

CLEMSON - It's not the name on the back of the jersey that Garrett Bouwlare has a problem with, It's the one of the front that he doesn't particularly like.

The T.L. Hanna product grew up playing with several of South Carolina's top players. One might go so far as to say he's friends with guys like pitcher Jordan Montgomery, third baseman Joey Pankake and catcher Grayson Greiner.

Well, maybe not friends per se, but cordial acquaintances, certainly more friendly than what's happening in the stands.

"I mean, there's hatred. People, they're angry. They want to win so badly. Everyone is just kind of going after each other's throats," Boulware said. "Not really us on the field. Those kids I grew up playing with, so I personally have no problems with the players I'm playing against, it's just South Carolina as a whole.

"South Carolina fans versus Clemson fans is another game. Everyone is just wanting to win so bad, everyone is just kind of going after each other, so it's going to be pretty crazy."

Friday challenge

After allowing six runs in their first two games against Bucknell, the South Carolina pitching staff has recorded shut-outs in its last five games. It's a streak of 51-straight innings without a run.

Montgomery hasn't been charged with a run all season. In two starts this season, he's 2-0. Opponents have combined for eight hits in 12 innings and are batting .195 against him.

"He's just got a very good mix of what he's got. He's got good talent with good command. He's able to hone all of his pitches in and make the best of them," Boulware said. "He's going to keep us off balance. He's going to throw a fastball when you're not expecting, he's going to throw a change-up when you're not expecting.

"That's what he's good at and that's why he's their Friday guy and that's why he's led them the last two years."

Against Clemson last season, Montgomery pitched eight scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and gave up just three hits.

"He throws strikes, doesn't hurt himself, usually works ahead in the count," Jack Leggett said. "He's not afraid to use his fastball. He's got three pitches that he feels confident in, holds runners on, does a lot of good things for them. He's been effective the last few years, so it'll be a good challenge for us, there's no question about it."

Clemson'S Friday night guy, Daniel Gossett, has matched up with Montgomery several times over the years, dating back to high school. According to Gossett, Montgomery's team has won every time they've faced one another.

"He's a competitor," Gossett said. "He's going to go out there and give it everything he has. We're not going to get any cheap runs off of him. He's going to make us earn. He's a great competitor, has been since high school. We know what we're going to get. We've got to show up ready to compete."

The measuring stick

No offense to Eastern Michigan, Maine and Presbyterian, but those programs don't compare to what Clemson will measure itself against this weekend. And that's not even taking the rivalry into consideration.

Clemson and South Carolina play in two of the premier college baseball conferences in the country. Both programs strive to host Regionals, Super Regionals and take mid-June excursions to Omaha, Neb.

"There's a huge difference between South Carolina, Eastern Michigan and Maine. It shows how you stack up against teams like this," Boulware said. "They have the talent. They have the coaching. Their team as a whole, they're a good team. It really just says if we have it or not. From what I've heard, they're the No. 3 team in the country.

"If we can take two from them, that says a lot about us."

It would give Clemson fans a few months worth of bragging rights, or however long until they meet again in the postseason.

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