The Gamecocks broke out the bats and got their second consecutive SEC weekend sweep, this time over Auburn.
Breaking it Down…The Gamecocks offense led the way the entire weekend. On Friday night the offense opened with 4 runs in the top of the first inning. The Gamecocks tallied 4 hits to go along with a walk to take a commanding lead. The 4-0 lead grew to 7-0 in the fourth when the USC bats pounded out more singles and took advantage of Auburn free passes. In the 5th, USC all but put the game away by scoring 4 more runs. In that frame, there were 4 more hits and a Tiger error. Auburn later scored a pair in the bottom of the 5th, a pair in the 7th and 1 in the eighth, but the game was never in doubt. For the game Carolina pounded 13 hits and took full advantage of 10 free passes.
On Saturday the Gamecocks came up with another big inning. In the top of the 6th, USC was trailing 1-0. Christian Walker drove in 2 with a triple, and L. B. Dantzler drove in another two with a home run. Auburn answered with arun in the bottom of the 6th and another in the bottom of the 8th, but Tyler Webb and Matt Price followed up Jordan Montgomery’s solid start to win the game.
Sunday featured more Gamecock offense. On a day when the wind was blowing out, both teams had big innings. USC scored 4 in the first behind Erik Payne’s 3 run home run. They added another in the second and another in the third to build a 6-0 lead. In the 5th, they would extend that lead to 8-1 before yielding 3 runs to the Tigers in the bottom of the 5th. With a run in the seventh and a pair more in the eighth, the lead was again 7, but things became a little interesting in the ninth. Auburn scored 3 and loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate. Matt Price then did what Matt Price does: he struck out the last two batters.
What to take away from the weekend: The Gamecocks are streaking. They’ve swept back to back series in conference including one on the road. The 1-5 start to the season is becoming a fast fading memory. This team didn’t start out as a lock for a national seed and a trip to Omaha, and they still aren’t there yet. They’ve been the kind of team who has to define who it is over the course of a season and, if all goes according to plan, they’ll be playing their best baseball at the end of the year. The steady improvement in scoring offense and starting pitching and parts of the bull pen has led to this 8 game conference winning streak. The project now is to maintain the momentum and continue to mature. If those two things happen, a third consecutive trip to Omaha is not out of the question.
Stars of the Series…L. B. Dantzler…5-13, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI…Grayson Greiner…4-11, 3 RBI…Tanner English…5-13, 2 RBI…Jordan Montgomery…W, 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER…Tyler Webb…2 app., 2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 BB…Matt Price, 2 app., S, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 BB…
This and that…South Carolina is now 30-11 (11-7)…They are tied with Florida for 2nd in the SEC East, and are two games back of Kentucky with 12 to go….USC has now won 8 straight SEC games….They have won 4 straight conference series….They have also beaten Auburn for the 13th consecutive time….The Gamecocks RPI is holding steady at 7….
Up next…South Carolina hosts Alabama for the weekend series beginning on Thursday at 7:30 on ESPNU.
Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.