USC Beats Up on Auburn
Auburn, Ala. – Eighth ranked South Carolina erupted for 11 runs in the first five innings and backed a quality start from senior left-hander Michael Roth on the way to a 12-5 victory over Auburn on Friday evening in the series opener at Plainsman Park. The Gamecocks improve to 28-11 and 9-7 in the SEC while the loss drops Auburn to 21-17 and 7-9 in league play. Game two of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET and will be televised live on SportSouth with Dave Neal and Larry Conley on the call. It can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station 107.5 FM, “The Game.” Andy Demetra and Tommy Moody are behind the microphone on the radio. Carolina had a 13-hit night vs. the Tigers with eight of the hits coming from four freshman position players. Connor Bright went 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBI, Grayson Greiner was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI, Tanner English had one hit with two runs scored and a RBI and Joey Pankake tallied a hit and two RBI as well. Evan Marzilli added two hits and two runs scored as well. Eight of the nine Gamecock position starters had at least one hit. The 13 hits mark the highest total for the Gamecocks vs. a SEC opponent this year. Roth allowed four runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings with two walks and eight strikeouts for his fourth win of the season. He is 4-0 on the year. The eight strikeouts marked the most for Roth this season against a SEC team and the second highest strikeout total for him on the year. Auburn senior right-hander Derek Varnadore allowed seven runs on six hits in three-plus innings with three walks and three strikeouts in a loss for the Tigers. He is now 1-6 for the season. South Carolina struck with four runs in the top of the first inning off of Varnadore. Carolina would load the bases with one out as Marzilli drew a walk, Walker singled to left field and LB Dantzler knocked a base hit up the middle. Greiner would drive in the first run with a line drive single to center field scoring Marzilli. With the bases still full, Adam Matthews tallied the second RBI of the frame with a groundout to the second baseman. With two outs and runners on second and third base, Bright delivered as he knocked a RBI base hit off the wall in left field scoring both Dantzler and Greiner giving the Gamecocks a 4-0 lead. Bright‘s two-run single was his first runs driven in since March 9 vs. Princeton. The four runs in the first tied a season-high for the Gamecocks as Carolina also scored four in the 8-1 win over UNC Asheville on March 7. Auburn would look to answer in the bottom half of the first loading the bases with one out against Roth. The senior left-hander worked out of it though as Justin Bryant lined out to Pankake at short and he stepped on second base for a double play to end the Tigers‘ threat. “It was great to get some runs early,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “We were very fortunate, we caught Varnadore on a night that he wasn‘t as good as he normally is. He has been very competitive (for Auburn) and pitched a lot of good games. We got out of the blocks early; Roth was able to make some pitches here and there. They have an outstanding team offensively, and (Roth) had a few strikeouts to get out of some trouble. It was a good game for us (tonight).” The Gamecocks struck for three more runs in the top of the fourth inning to extend the advantage to 7-0 and knocking Varnadore out of the game in the process. Bright‘s second single of the game, a base hit into right-center started off the frame. Tanner English was hit by a pitch and Chase Vergason walked to load the bases with no outs. Joey Pankake then launched a blast that went off the top of the 30-foot wall in left-center scoring both Bright and English. After Varnadore was lifted for right-hander Jay Wade, the Gamecocks added a run on a 6-4-3 double off the bat of Walker to go ahead by seven runs. A four-run fifth inning would increase the Carolina advantage to 11 runs. Greiner led off with a base hit to right-center. With one out and Greiner on second base, Bright tallied his third hit of the evening with a RBI single up the middle scoring Greiner and Bright would take second on the throw home. English kept the hit parade going with a RBI base hit to right field that plated home Bright. With runners on second and third and one out, English would score on a fielder‘s choice as a throw home by the Auburn second baseman Creede Simpson sailed high in the attempt to nab English. Evan Marzilli added a RBI sacrifice fly to left field scoring Vergason. Auburn would get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth with two runs on a two-out triple by Cullen Wacker. They added two more in the seventh as Garrett Cooper connected with a two-out two-run homer to right-center, his third home run of the season. The Gamecocks scored the 12th run in the top of the eighth inning. Marzilli singled and Walker drew a walk to open the eighth. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners over, Greiner lined a sacrifice fly into left field scoring Marzilli. Auburn‘s final run came in the ninth inning on a pinch-hit single off the bat of Patrick Savage. Gamecock junior right-hander Patrick Sullivan worked 2.1 innings of relief and allowed one run on three this with one out and two strikeouts to preserve the Carolina victory.