With the victory Auburn improves to 32-17 overall and more importantly 12-12 in the SEC and one step closer to postseason play. Still fighting for more than just a berth in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers are one more conference win and a loss from Tennessee and Georgia from clinching a spot in Hoover
With Keegan Thompson still not available for the Tigers they continue to get strong pitching from the rest of the staff. On Sunday it was another opportunity for Dalton Rentz and he continued his good work, allowing just two hits and no runs in four and two/thirds innings. While he didn’t get the win, Rentz set the table for the Tigers and said it was just a memorable day.
“It’s big,” Rentz said. “It’s big for the confidence of the team. I came on this team from juco just to fill my role, whatever role they tell me I’m going to do. I was just doing my job.
“We always have confidence,” he added. “I believe in our offense. We’re always going to score runs, late in the game or early in the game. I’m just always confident in those guys.”
Relievers Justin Camp and Trey Wingenter came on to finish things off for Auburn’s first series win at South Carolina in 18 years. Camp didn’t allow a hit in his three and one/third innings and struck out three before Wingenter finished things off. Winning for the first time against South Carolina since 1997, Camp said it’s just another big step for the program.
“It feels good,” Camp said of breaking the streak. “Honestly I didn’t even know about it until Coach said something. It’s crazy to think that I was four the last time we beat them. That’s pretty crazy, but a lot of fun.”
At the plate the Tigers got three hits from Daniel Robert as part of a 10-hit attack on Sunday. South Carolina managed just three hits against Auburn pitching as the Tigers’ defense came to play with just three strikeouts for the Gamecocks.
Auburn missed several opportunities to take the lead on Sunday in the first four innings as the Tigers left three runners on base and had three runners thrown out on the bases. That changed in the top of the fifth however as Auburn finally broke through against South Carolina starter Clarke Schmidt.
Kyler Deese had a big two-run double for Auburn on Sunday
Leading off the inning, Blake Logan hit a shallow fly ball to left field that Clark Scolarmiero misplayed for a leadoff double. With one out Bo Decker singled through the left side to put runners on the corners with one out for Damon Haecker. Already with a hit after moving into the leadoff spot, Haecker lifted a fly ball to center to easily score Logan and give the Tigers the lead.
Cruising through four innings, Rentz ran into trouble in the fifth after walking Jordan Gore on four pitches to start things before a sacrifice moved him to second with one out. After another groundout, Rentz walked Gene Cone to put runners on the corners with two outs and Max Schrock at the plate. With Camp and Wingenter both well-rested, Auburn went with Camp in the clutch situation and he delivered with a ground ball out to end the threat and keep the Tigers in front.
Auburn didn’t waste any time in taking advantage of the momentum as Anfernee Grier singled with one out and stole second with Robert at the plate. Already with a pair of hits, Robert smashed a single to center field and advanced to second when the throw from center field missed the cutoff man. It wouldn’t matter as moments later Kyler Deese’s sinking liner to center handcuffed Cone and bounced away for a double. That scored both runners to put the Tigers in front 3-0.
Camp pitched the Tigers into the ninth and Wingenter took over to earn his fourth save of the season. He allowed the first hit for South Carolina since the third inning, but that would be it as Auburn broke the streak with the three-run victory.
Auburn does not have a midweek game with final exams taking place, but the Tigers will return to action beginning Friday night in a three-game series against rival Alabama at Plainsman Park.