Gamecocks Stand In The Way For Tigers

Auburn will have to beat South Carolina for just the 10th time of the last 15 years if the Tigers want to advance in the SEC Tournament.

Hoover, Ala.—For the Auburn Tigers to continue their quest of making a NCAA Regional next week then they'll likely need at least one more win in the SEC Tournament at Regions Park to make that happen. All that stands in the way is the nemesis of Auburn baseball and the two-time defending national champions, the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Losing 3-2 to Vanderbilt Wednesday night, South Carolina is expected to start All-American left-hander Michael Roth and his 5-1 record this season. Entering Thursday's game with a career record of 22-6, Roth allowed four earned runs in six and two/thirds innings in a 12-5 South Carolina win over Auburn back on April 20.

To make a difficult task even more daunting all you need to do is look at Auburn's recent history against the Gamecocks. Since winning a series in Columbia in 1997, the Tigers are just 9-35 overall against South Carolina and have lost 13 consecutive series. Last year Auburn fell 7-3 to South Carolina to open the SEC Tournament, but defeated the Gamecocks 3-1 in 12 innings in 2010.

Auburn will be looking to make school history as well with a victory on Thursday. In eleven SEC Tournaments dating back to 1986, the Tigers have lost the first game to fall into the loser's bracket. If Auburn could beat the Gamecocks it would be the first time in school history than an Auburn team lost the first game and recovered to win more than one game in the same tournament.

Currently 31-27 overall, Auburn is currently 57th in RPI according to Warren Nolan. A win over the #10 Gamecocks would be a big boost to the Tigers' hopes for a NCAA bid, but it will have to come from deep in the Auburn bullpen.

Having to use Derek Varnadore on Wednesday and with Jon Luke Jacobs and Daniel Koger both going deep in the game the last two days, the Tigers are looking at a trio of players to possibly start heading into Thursday's contest. A senior, Cory Luckie is 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA this season. Currently 1-1, sophomore Dillon Ortman has an ERA of 3.20 this season in 18 appearances. True freshman Trey Cochran-Gill is also an option. Struggling in his SEC starts, Cochran-Gill has been solid overall with a 5-2 record with a 3.67 ERA.

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