Auburn led 2-1 going to the ninth, but closer Michael Nix couldn't slam the door as the Gamecocks scored twice to steal the victory.
Holding a tenuous one-run lead in the ninth Nix went out and looked sharp early, getting the first two hitters to put the Gamecocks on life support. That's when things would change for the worse for the Tigers. Pinch hitter Tommy King, hitting just .197 on the season, singled to give his team some life. Number nine hitter Joey Friddle then walked to put the tying run in scoring position with two outs and bringing to the plate lead-off man Michael Campbell.
Getting a pitch to pull, Campbell lined a single into right field that Auburn's Clete Thomas came up with and fired towards home. Unfortunately for the Tigers the throw was off the mark allowing King to score. Thrown short and wild, the throw also got by catcher Josh Bell at the plate and that allowed King to score all the way from first to score the winning run in heartbreaking fashion for the Tigers.
The loss drops Auburn to 27-18 overall and 9-11 in SEC play. Number 13 South Carolina improves to 31-12, 11-9 in conference action. The loss goes to Nix, who falls to 4-2 on the season. Josh Sullivan got a no-decision in the contest after pitching beautifully, allowing just two hits and one run in six innings of work. South Carolina starter Zac McCamie also got a no-decision after giving up just two runs on five hits in seven and one/third innings.
Josh Bell had his ninth home run of the season during Saturday's game.
Josh Bell again had an outstanding day for the Tigers at the plate as he had both RBI for Auburn on the day. Tyler Johnstone also had two hits for Auburn as the Tigers had eight hits, but could only make them pay off for two runs.
For the second day in a row a pitcher's duel broke out as Sullivan and McCamie dominated the action early in the contest. Neither team did anything in the first three innings, but Bell changed that in the fourth. Leading off the inning he got a first-pitch fastball from McCamie and drove it deep into center field for a solo home run. It was Bell's ninth home run of the season and gave the Tigers the first lead of the game.
That would be it for the Tigers though as McCamie and Sullivan resumed the domination from that point forward as Auburn still held the one-run lead as the game went to the bottom of the seventh. Sullivan would make his first mistake of the game and it led to the first run for the Gamecocks. Facing Mark Stanley, Sullivan walked him on four pitches to open the inning and put South Carolina in business.
Pinch hitter Davy Gregg then bunted down the third base line and Josh Donaldson couldn't make the play. While Donaldson was bobbling the ball Stanley moved all the way to third with still nobody out. That would be it for Sullivan as Madden came on in relief. He quickly got a ground ball from Chris Brown, but the run scored to tie the game. Friddle hit into a double play to end the inning and the Gamecock threat as the game went to the eighth tied at one.
Auburn came back to take the lead in the next inning thanks to production from the bottom of the order and a big hit from Bell. With one out Adam Stacey singled up the middle to put the Tigers in business. Johnstone followed with a single of his own as Auburn had two runners on with just one out. Thomas couldn't do anything against reliever Brent Marsh, leaving Bell to do the dirty work. Fighting off an outside pitch, Bell dropped a single into right field to score Stacey with the go-ahead run. It was Bell's second RBI of the day and gave the Tigers the lead with the bullpen to hold it.
In the eighth Madden got the first two hitters of the inning before Nix came on to finish things out, but not before he survived a little trouble. Pearce singled to welcome the Auburn senior to the game and pinch-hitter Phil Disher walked, but Nix struck out Jon Willard to end the threat, but he wouldn't be as fortunate in the final inning as the Gamecocks scored two to even the series.
Sunday the Tigers will send freshman Cliff Mullins to the mound against Jason Fletcher for the Gamecocks. Mullins is 1-0 with a 2.83 ERA this season while Fletcher enters the contest 4-3 with an earned run average of 3.20. The first pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CDT.