With No. 11 South Carolina’s 4-3 victory Sunday against Auburn, Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook thinks his team is turning the corner.
“This was a big win for us,” Holbrook said. “This was a big weekend for us. Having to face some adversity, finding a way to win a big series like this is big, and I hope it gives us some momentum moving forward.”
Gamecocks starter Wil Crowe battled through 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Cody Mincey and Joel Seddon, who pitched in relief in Saturday’s Game 2 victory, combined to pitch 3 1/3 innings of four-hit baseball.
The top and middle of the South Carolina order came through in a big way.
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Marcus Mooney led off and went 1-for-4 with a run scored. DC Arendas went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Joey Pankake got his only hit of the series in the first inning for an RBI double.
Grayson Greiner, who started Saturday’s ninth-inning rally, went 3-for-4 Sunday with two RBIs.
South Carolina jumped to an early lead – something the Gamecocks haven’t done during its recent slide that included five-straight losses.
Against Auburn starter Trey Wingenter, the top of the lineup started quickly.
Mooney took a pitch to the back to get on base, Arendas singled to right-center field and Pankake crushed an RBI-ground rule double to the deepest part of the park.
After Kyle Martin grounded out to first base, Greiner hit a single through the left side to score Arendas and give the Gamecocks a 2-0 lead.
Auburn pulled Wingenter in favor or Michael O’Neal, who finished the inning with no further damage. The Tigers scrapped out a run in the bottom of the frame to cut the USC lead in half.
The two teams traded runs in the third. Greiner doubled to left-center field to score Arendas, but Crowe allowed three straight two-out singles to put the score at 3-2 in favor of the Gamecocks.
Auburn scored in the sixth off Crowe to tie the score, and Holbrook elected to substitute Mincey in for Crowe.
“Wil was OK, but I don’t think it was his best performance,” Holbrook said. “He battled and competed, which is his best trait he gave us a good start, but he gave it over to our bullpen, which is what I thought was our advantage over (Auburn).”
Mincey shut the Tigers’ bats down and gave way to Seddon with two outs in the seventh.
In the top of the eighth, Martin and Greiner picked up two hard-hit singles to center field. A few batters later, Gene Cone came through again for USC with a sacrifice fly that allowed Martin to tag and score from third.
Seddon shut the Tigers down in the ninth and picked up his second win of the year.
“To persevere (through the injuries) and still find ourselves where we are at 30-10, I’m proud of my team,” Holbrook said. “If we can find a way to get healthy, we’re going to be difficult to beat, because our pitching staff has done a great job.”
The Gamecocks (30-10, 10-8) hope to carry this momentum into Tuesday’s meeting with Davidson, the first of a five-game homestand.