After 17 innings of struggling against Auburn’s starting pitchers, South Carolina found a way to stop its losing streak and split Saturday’s doubleheader against Auburn, dropping the first game, 4-2, and pulling out an uplifting win, 3-2, in Game 2.
“Sometimes, one win is more important than just one win,” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said. “This is probably one of those. There were some anxious moments but we found a way to win the game.”
After struggling against Auburn starters Dillon Ortman and Keegan Thompson, South Carolina breathed a collective sigh of relief when Auburn tabbed Jay Wade to enter in the ninth inning of Game 2.
Ahead 2-1, Wade entered and allowed a single to Grayson Greiner before striking out Connor Bright. However, Wade walked Elliott Caldwell with one down.
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Right fielder Gene Cone made Wade pay by sending his 2-2 pitch down the right-field line for a RBI double to tie the score at 2.
With two runners in scoring position, Auburn brought in Trey Cochran-Gill, who intentionally walked Tanner English and allowed Jordan Gore to come through with a clutch RBI-single to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the series.
Greiner went 3-for-4 with a run scored, Gore went 1-for-4 with an RBI and Cone went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Gamecocks, who snapped a five-game losing skid.
“Personally, it was good to get that monkey off our back,” Greiner said. “I can’t remember the last time this program lost six in a row, but that’s the attitude this team has.”
Jack Wynkoop pitched seven solid innings, allowing two runs on eight hits. Cody Mincey pitched the eighth in relief, and after loading the bases with no outs, got out of the jam for his third victory of the season.
“(Jordan Montgomery and Wynkoop) have pitched their rear ends off for us all year long,” Holdbrook said. “We have the utmost confidence in those guys.”
Joel Seddon came on in the ninth and recorded an easy six-pitch save for his 10th of the season.
Montgomery got off to a rocky start in the opener, allowing four runs on two hits and a walk in the first inning. However, the junior southpaw settled down and went the distance, scattering four hits over eight innings.
The offense could not solve Auburn senior ace Dillon Ortman, who collected his seventh win of the season.
Ortman allowed two runs on seven hits in his second complete game of the season.
DC Arendas went 2-for-4 in the first game, while Caldwell went 1-for-3 with both of the Gamecocks’ RBIs. English went 2-for-3 with a run scored and Bright went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
“Win, lose or draw, I was going to say I think I have a special team,” Holbrook said. “I think that we’re going to do special things later in the year.”
The Gamecocks will attempt to build off the second game on Sunday at 2 p.m. as they play Auburn in the rubber game of the series. That game will be televised by CSS and available online at ESPN3.