Disher The Difference In 8-6 Auburn Loss

South Carolina scored all eight runs in the final five innings to defeat the Auburn Tigers 8-6 Saturday at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--Phil Disher hit two home runs, the second a two-run shot in the top of the eighth inning off Taylor Thompson, to give the Gamecocks a 6-5 lead as South Carolina defeated Auburn 8-6 Saturday at Plainsman Park to win the series against the Tigers.

Auburn (22-14, 6-8) led 5-3 after six innings, but South Carolina (24-10, 8-6) outscored the Tigers 5-1 over the final three innings to get the win.

"Taylor was really throwing the ball well and Disher hammered that ball," Auburn coach Tommy Slater said. "I don't know what else to tell you. That ball was stroked pretty well. Taylor has really been throwing the ball well for us. We're not down on Taylor on one pitch."

One pitch wasn't the deciding factor in Saturday's baseball game, but the top of the eighth inning proved to be the difference. With two outs and nobody on and Thompson cruising with a 5-4 lead, he got ahead 0-2 on third baseman James Darnell before giving up a single to center field.

That brought the big man Disher to the plate. Already with a home run on the day, Disher jumped on a 1-0 fastball and crushed it over the monster in left field for the home run. The blast put South Carolina in front for the first time on the day and was yet another big hit for Disher against the Tigers.

"Disher, yesterday he hurt us with the double down the left field line," Slater said. "Disher is swinging it well for them right now. He got that ball obviously on Taylor."

Auburn compounded Disher's heroics by giving up two runs in the top of the ninth inning, runs that proved to be the winning margin in the game. Designated hitter Parker Bangs led off the inning with a single and a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch later he was standing on third base. Back to back walks followed from Thompson before Bryan Woodall came on to try to hold the Gamecocks. It didn't work as Whit Merrifield put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Bangs from third. Following an intentional walk to Justin Smoak, a wild pitch scored the eighth run of the day for South Carolina.

The Tigers threatened in the ninth inning as Ben Jones reached with one out after being hit by a pitch. A walk to Kevin Patterson followed and one out later Trent Mummey singled to right field to score Jones and put the tying run on first base with Matt Hall at the plate. Already with a home run on the day, Hall struck out against Bangs to end the game.

Mummey had another good day to raise his average to .325 on the season.

Offensively, it was a solid day for the Tigers as Mummey and Hunter Morris both had two hits with Morris adding his team-best seventh home run of the season in the process. Even though it wasn't quite enough, Slater said he was pleased with the offense against South Carolina starter Casey Atwood.

"I think our kids went up there with a good approach early," Slater said. "I thought Atwood actually pitched a little differently than we anticipated. He pitched in more than he usually does. He usually stays away from the righties. Our guys made a nice adjustment. We didn't have a ton of hits, but any time you have six runs on only seven hits you've played pretty good offense."

Atwood got the win to improve to 4-1 on the season, giving up five earned runs on six hits in seven innings. Thompson got the loss for the Tigers, allowing four earned runs on three hits in two and one/third innings. Starter Cory Luckie gave up four earned runs on seven hits in six innings of work.

Auburn got things going early against Atwood on Saturday as center fielder Mummey was hit by a pitch to start the first and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hall. Following a Mike Bianucci walk and a Hunter Morris pop up, third baseman Joseph Sanders came through with a big blow. Getting a pitch to turn on, Sanders ripped a double down the left field line that scored both runners to give Luckie a cushion.

Both pitchers settled in with scoreless second and third innings before Auburn again got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Despite a strong wind blowing in from right field, Morris drove a pitch just into the stands at the K Corner for his seventh home run of the season. That gave Auburn a 3-0 lead, but the Gamecocks answered right back.

South Carolina came into the weekend the top home run hitting team in the league and Disher showed why in the fifth with a blast just over the glove of Mummey in center field. It was Disher's 11th homer of the season and it cut Auburn's advantage down to just two. p> The long ball again was South Carolina's friend in the sixth as Reese Havens led off the inning with a solo shot to left. Back to back singles by Merrifield and Smoak led to a James Darnell RBI groundout and just like that the game was tied again at three.

The Tigers had an answer of their own in the bottom of the sixth as Hall led off with a long home run to left, his second of the season. Things didn't stop there as Bianucci singled to left to bring Morris to the plate. Already with a homer to his credit, Morris drilled a double over the head of Smoak at first base. Harley Lail had trouble with the ball in the corner, allowing Bianucci to score and make it 5-3 Auburn. The Tigers had a chance for an insurance run following a sacrifice bunt moving Morris to third, but ground ball outs by Fletcher and Ben Jones brought the inning to a close.

Luckie's day came to an end in the seventh as Parker Bangs led off the inning with a solo home run to left field. It was his first of the season and brought the Gamecocks back to within one. Thompson came on to finish out the inning with Auburn holding on to a 5-4 lead, but he wouldn't be as fortunate the rest of the way as the Gamecocks came from behind for the victory.

Auburn will try to avoid the sweep on Sunday as freshman Bradley Hendrix (1-0, 4.95) takes on sophomore right hander Blake Cooper (3-3, 3.32) for South Carolina. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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