The Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks have shared a passionate baseball rivalry since 1945. While the Palmetto Bowl football game may be the most heralded sporting event in the state, the schools' baseball rivalry comes in as a close second.
Both are established national contenders with strong fan followings. The two combine for 23 appearances to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, and consistently rank in college baseball's top ten for home-game attendance.
Aaron Fitt, a national baseball columnist who has written for D1 Baseball and Baseball America, described it as "far and away the most compelling rivalry baseball has to offer."
Before 2010, South Carolina and Clemson faced off four times each season, featuring a two-game series split between Columbia and Clemson on a weekend and two other weeknight games, typically played on a Wednesday.
But a change in the rivalry's format that season transformed the series to what it is now: a traveling three-day circus that showcases the best that baseball has to offer in the Palmetto State.
The schools still rotate the first and last game of the weekend series between South Carolina's Founders Park and Clemson's Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Saturday is traditionally reserved for a neutral site, however.
The 6,700-seat Flour Field in Greenville, home to the Drive, a Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, has hosted the game in nine of the last ten seasons.
Separated by just over 130 miles, the 6-2 Gamecocks and 7-1 Tigers are slated to do battle on the diamond this weekend.
The pair will play at 7 p.m. at South Carolina on Fri. and 2 p.m. at Clemson's on Sun.
But this time around, the circus will come to Columbia instead of Greenville.
Dubbed "The Battle of Bull Street" the game will be played at Segra Park, the 9,077-seat home of the Columbia Fireflies. The largest baseball stadium in the state, and was named "Ballpark of the Year" by Ballpark Digest during it's first season in 2016.
First pitch is schedule for 3:00 p.m.
With large concourses, picnic tables, an outfield bar, and 360-degree walkability, the Fireflies stadium provides an excellent gameday experience for baseball fans.
Not all of the attention is focused on the field during a minor league game, said Fireflies president John Katz. Discounted tickets, food, drinks, and promotions provide a family-friendly experience for fans.
"A Fireflies game is a cool social experience," he said.
But with two of the sport's bluebloods battling for bragging rights, Katz knows that all eyes will be focused on the field this Saturday.
This is the first time we are combining the baseball with the experience," Katz said.
Katz said that the Fireflies are expecting a large turnout for the game.
"We're technically already sold out. I hate to use numbers, but we should be well north of 8,000 people," he said.
The Fireflies partnered with the Columbia Regional Sports Council to bring the game to the city. The council is responsible for bringing sporting events to Columbia.
The two worked together to fill out a 'request for proposal' form, which the schools distributed to each city in the state that has a minor league stadium.
Scott Powers, the executive director of the Columbia Regional Sports Council, isn't a stranger to bringing big-ticket events to Columbia.
As executive director of the organization, Powers spearheaded the city's bid to secure the first and second rounds 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The event helped bring millions of dollars in economic impact to the Midlands area.
"We know we had to put in a huge effort. That's why we decided to partner with the Fireflies," he said.
Cities often bid for big-ticket sporting events years in advance, and Columbia was no different. Countless hours of preparation, paperwork, and planning were required from the Fireflies and the Columbia Regional Sports Council.
"We're hoping to have the largest crowd ever for a South Carolina-Clemson baseball game," he said.
For fans who do not have a ticket, the Fireflies will be host a fan festival outside of the stadium. The event will last from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"We wanted to put something on that if people couldn't find tickets, they could bring the kids to see Cocky and the Tiger and have their face painted," Powers said.
"One of the things that makes this game so unique is that it is an all-day event." Katz said.
The fan fest is free and open to the public, with food and beer vendors available. South Carolina and Clemson-themed spaces will be designated on each side of Freed Street, which is located at the stadium's front entrance.
Limited standing-room only tickets are available for $10 at battleatbullstreet.com