With Lugoff native Monte Lee at the helm of the Clemson baseball program, the Chanticleers expect to see a lot more of the Tigers in Conway in the coming seasons.
Lee is in his third year as the Clemson head coach after spending seven seasons leading the College of Charleston program, and playing Coastal Carolina regularly during his tenure there.
“I’m very good friends with Monte and I know his staff guys are really, really tight with my guys,” Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said. “For them to agree to come here year in and year out from here on out is a huge testament to who he is and the class with which he does things in that program, because everybody doesn’t do that.”
Lee replaced Jack Leggett, who coached the Tigers from 1994 to 2015, and according to Gilmore was not fond of traveling to Coastal for games.
Clemson and Coastal have a long history that includes 54 games beginning in 1986. But from 1995 through 2017, the teams played 36 games, with just one of them on the CCU campus in 2015 after Springs Brooks Stadium opened. Clemson also played in Myrtle Beach once in 2005, and five of the 36 were NCAA tournament games. The rest were played in Clemson.
Gilmore, whose win over Clemson on Tuesday gave him 900 at CCU, explained: “When [Lee] got the job I called him and I tried to kind of shame him into playing us here because he had come from a mid-major school and he got that job. I kept telling him I could never get coach Leggett, coach Leggett never played on our field in the whatever it was, 16 years or more we competed against each other.
“. . . [Lee] said you guys are the national champions and I respect that, and Clemson needs to play you and we need to play you on your field just as well as on our field. That means the world to me. Talking about the respect and things, [winning] 900 games, that to me is what that whole thing is about.”
So bronze and teal will compete with orange, purple and white in the seats at Springs Brooks Stadium at least once a year for the foreseeable future. The two color patterns filled the stadium Tuesday, as the 4,130 tickets sold to the game set a record for an on-campus baseball game.
“Coastal Carolina has been one of the best programs in the country for a long, long time. I’ve been coming to Coastal Carolina for my whole career,” Lee said. “I have a lot of respect for Gary Gilmore and his coaching staff and his program, they’ve been one of the best programs in the country for a long time, even before they won the national championship.”