Scott Wingo walked to the plate in the ninth inning with one out and runners on the corners in a tie game. In four previous at-bats, he had no hits and three consecutive strikeouts.
South Carolina’s senior second baseman did not go down on strikes his last time around. Wingo’s deep fly ball to center field, which glanced off the glove of Auburn’s Creede Simpson, scored the winning run to give the second-ranked Gamecocks a 2-1 victory against Auburn on Friday night at Carolina Stadium.
“This game will humble you, for sure,” Wingo said. “So my last at-bat I said, as much as I can, ‘Wipe it off, battle right here and try to get us a win.’ I pretty much went into that at-bat saying give it your all right there.”
Wingo’s hit allowed the Gamecocks to improve to 33-8 overall and 15-4 in the SEC, keeping them in a first-place tie with Vanderbilt and Florida in the East. USC won the Friday game of a weekend series for the 10th time in 11 tries.
Robert Beary, who drove in USC’s first run with a second-inning double, opened the ninth inning by getting hit by the first pitch thrown by Auburn reliever Dillon Ortman (0-1).
Beary moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by DeSean Anderson and to third on a single by Peter Mooney before Wingo delivered.
USC right-hander John Taylor (4-1) picked up the victory with one inning of scoreless relief.
But it was junior left-hander Michael Roth who kept the game close for eight innings. Roth allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out six. Although he lowered his ERA to 1.24, he had his first no-decision in 11 starts.
Roth was matched by Auburn right-hander Jon Luke Jacobs, who allowed one run on five hits and five walks while striking out a career-high nine.
Beary said both pitchers use similar approaches by changing speeds and throwing a lot of strikes.
“You have to find a way to win these kinds of games when the pitchers are doing well and keeping us off balance. We ended up doing it,” Beary said.
USC coach Ray Tanner called it a pitchers’ duel that could have gone either way.
“(Roth and Jacobs) make it tough on hitters,” he said. “They don’t throw a lot of pitches down Broadway. They mix and match and throw one in, throw one out. It’s not easy to hit those guys.”
Mooney, who made several stellar plays at shortstop, credited the team’s confidence to playing behind Roth.
“The team always finds a way to get it done,” Mooney said. “I always have the feeling we’re going to come out on top with Michael Roth on the mound.”
Left fielder Jake Williams also made a pair of nice catches, including a diving grab of a liner in the ninth. First baseman Christian Walker also made several nice scoops at first.
That’s no surprise to Tanner, whose team leads the SEC in defense. He also has come to rely on the solid pitching and timely hitting that surfaced again.
“The guys understand that we have a plan,” Tanner said. “We don’t take the approach that we’re unbeatable and all we have to do is show up and go and throw our gloves out there. We’re not good enough to do that. Guys fight, they scratch and claw, and try to figure out a way to win if we have an opportunity. We’ve won a lot of close games.”
Auburn, which fell to 23-19 overall and 9-10 in the SEC, took a 1-0 lead in the second inning off Roth, who gave up a leadoff single to Simpson. After Simpson stole second, he scored on a chopper by Justin Fradejas over the head of third baseman Adrian Morales.
Beary’s double scored Evan Marzilli, who had reached on a single, to tie the game before the pitchers took over.
“We come out here expecting to win no matter who we face,” Roth said. “I wouldn’t say it’s like, ‘Whew, I’m glad we finished that one up.’ It’s nice Wingo came up with a big hit.”
The teams play the second game of the series tonight at 7 p.m. USC right-hander Colby Holmes (3-1, 4.12 ERA) will oppose Auburn right-hander Derek Varnadore (4-1, 3.67 ERA).
Ray Tanner postgame
Scott Wingo, Michael Roth postgame
Robert Beary postgame
Peter Mooney postgame
|Justin Fradejas rf||5||0||2||1||0||1||3||0||0|
|Dan Gamache 3b||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||1||2|
|Casey McElroy ss||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||1|
|Tony Caldwell c||1||0||0||0||1||0||10||0||0|
|Wes Gilmer dh||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Kevin Patterson 1b||4||0||0||0||0||1||6||0||3|
|Creede Simpson cf||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||0||2|
|Brooks Beisner lf||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||0||0|
|Cullen Wacker ph/lf||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Justin Hargett 2b||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||1||0|
|Jon Luke Jacobs p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|Dillon Ortman p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||4||0||2||0||1||0||1||4||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||5||0||1||1||0||3||3||3||1|
|Christian Walker 1b||2||0||1||0||2||1||9||1||0|
|Brady Thomas c||2||0||0||0||2||1||6||1||4|
|Jake Williams lf||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||0||0|
|Adrian Morales 3b||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||2||4|
|Evan Marzilli cf||4||1||1||0||0||1||2||0||0|
|Robert Beary rf||3||1||2||1||0||0||1||0||0|
|DeSean Anderson dh||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0|
|Michael Roth p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Note: 1 out, 2 runners LOB when the game ended.
E - Morales(5). LOB - AU 9; S. Carolina 11. 2B - McElroy, C.(13); Beary(7). HBP - Caldwell, T. 2; Beary. SH - Anderson(1). SB - Simpson, C.(6). CS - Fradejas, J.(6).
|Jon Luke Jacobs||8.0||5||1||1||5||9||1||0||0||0||29||34||10||5||124|
|Dillon Ortman L,0-1||0.1||2||1||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2||4||0||1||15|
|John Taylor W,4-1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||3||1||2||11|
Win - Taylor (4-1). Loss - Ortman, D. (0-1). Save - None. WP - Jacobs, J.(3). HBP - by Roth (Caldwell, T.); by Roth (Caldwell, T.); by Ortman, D. (Beary). Pitches/strikes: Jacobs, J. 124/67; Ortman, D. 15/7; Roth 124/84; Taylor 11/7.
Umpires - HP: Tony Maners 1B: Jeff Head 3B: Mark Humphreys
Start: 7:07 pm ... Time: 2:38 ... Attendance: 8,016