No. 11 South Carolina 2-3, Auburn 4-2
AUBURN, ALA. - Down a run entering the ninth inning, South Carolina stormed back with a pair of runs on RBI hits from freshmen Gene Cone and Jordan Gore to defeat Auburn, 3-2, Saturday in the second game of a doubleheader at Plainsman Park.
The Gamecocks dropped the first game by a 4-2 margin.
The Gamecocks are 29-10 and 9-8 in the SEC, with Auburn 22-18 and 7-10 in league play. The rubber game of the series is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Gamecocks escaped a jam in the bottom of the eighth in the second game to set up the ninth-inning heroics.
With the bases loaded and no outs, right-hander Cody Mincey fought back from a 3-0 count against Ryan Tella to strike him out for the first out of the inning. A strikeout of Dan Glevenyak followed, and Mincey ended the threat with pinch hitter Daniel Robert lining out to Gore at second base.
With momentum, the Gamecocks battled as the ninth inning opened with a leadoff single by Grayson Greiner and a one-out walk to Elliot Caldwell. After pinch-runner Patrick Harrington replaced Greiner, the Gamecocks tied the game at 2-2 on a RBI double to right field off the bat of Cone. Auburn intentionally walked Tanner English to set the stage for Gore, who lined a RBI single into left field to give the Gamecocks a one-run lead.
Junior right-hander Joel Seddon came in and pitched a perfect ninth to seal the Gamecock victory.
Mincey earned the win in relief and is now 3-0 on the year with a scoreless inning of work. Seddon raised his save total to 10 on the year. Auburn reliever Jay Wade suffered the loss and is now 3-2 for the season. He allowed two runs on two hits in 0.1 innings with a walk and a strikeout.
"Sometimes one win is more important than one win, this was probably one of those," said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. "There were some anxious moments. We found a way to win the game. It was extremely important to stem the tide of what we were kind of going through. We would fight, scratch to make something happen and something bad would happen and we wouldn't score a run. We found a way to win and can take a deep breath and come back to work tomorrow with maybe not so much pressure on ourselves and try to win a series on the road."
Both starting pitchers pitched well for both teams. Carolina left-hander Jack Wynkoop worked seven innings and allowed two runs, both unearned, on eight hits. Auburn freshman right-hander Keegan Thompson allowed one run on eight hits in eight innings of work.
Auburn took advantage of a pair of errors to go ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Damon Haecker reached base to open the frame as a throw by Gamecock shortstop DC Arendas went high and wide of first base. With one out, Damek Tomscha reached as a hard grounder could not be corralled by Arendas. With runners on the corners and two outs, Ryan Tella set down a perfect drag bunt between first and the mound for a base hit to score Haecker. The Tigers then scored their second run on a RBI single off the bat of Dan Glevenyak as Tomscha just beat the throw by left fielder Caldwell.
The Gamecocks would get on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh inning. Greiner led off with a single and Connor Bright followed with a base hit to give Carolina a pair of runners. After a sacrifice bunt, Greiner would score on Cone's first RBI hit of the game, a single to left field.
Cone had a career day, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, both career-highs. Greiner went 3-for-4 as well. Ebert and Tomscha both had two hits to lead Auburn at the plate.
"It was big for us as freshmen to come in and to make some impact in the game," said Cone. "It feels nice to be out there and string some good at bats out there and help us."
Junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery hurled a four-hit complete game for the Gamecocks in the opener, but a four-run first inning that included a three-run homer from Blake Austin lifted Auburn to a 4-2 win.
Auburn starter Dillon Ortman also went the distance and limited the Gamecocks to a pair of runs on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts. He is 7-2 on the year. Montgomery took the loss and is 5-3 on the year. He allowed four runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
The Tigers got all the runs they needed in the bottom of the first. J.J. Shaffer led off with a walk, Haecker reached base on a fielder's choice as Shaffer beat Arendas' throw to second, and Jordan Ebert bunted for a base hit to load the bases for the Tigers. Tomscha drove in Shaffer with a RBI groundout and Austin followed with a three-run homer to left field, his second homer of the season.
South Carolina got on the scoreboard with a run in the third inning. Bright led off with a base hit up the middle and advanced to third on a one-out single from English. Bright would score on Elliott Caldwell's sacrifice fly to left field cutting the deficit to three runs.
The Gamecocks added another run in the sixth inning to cut the lead to a pair of runs. English led off with a double down the left field line and scored on Caldwell's RBI base hit to right-center.
That would be it for Carolina, although the Gamecocks tried to rally in the ninth. Arendas led off with a base hit and Kyle Martin singled with one out to give Carolina a pair of runners. Ortman, however, stymied the Gamecocks to close the game out as Greiner grounded into a fielder's choice and Brison Celek grounded out to short to end the contest.
South Carolina outhit Auburn 7-4 in the loss. Arendas and English each had two hits to lead the Gamecocks. Ebert went 2-for-4 to lead Auburn at the plate.