Dyson Dominates Tigers In Series Opener

South Carolina starter Sam Dyson was too much for Auburn on Friday night.

Columbia, S.C.--It was a case of just being outmatched for the Auburn Tigers Friday night as South Carolina pitcher Sam Dyson pitched a complete game, allowing just three runs on six hits while striking out nine, as the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers 8-3 to win the opening game of the series. Auburn falls to 24-14 overall, 7-8 in SEC play. South Carolina improves to 25-13 and 8-8 in conference action. Coach John Pawlowski said Friday's game was all about Dyson on the mound.

"He overmatched us," Pawlowski said. "We didn't have many opportunities. I think we only had eight base runners all night long. We didn't have many chances. He certainly was the difference today and pitched a great ballgame."

For the Tigers, sophomore Grant Dayton had a solid outing as he gave up six runs on 11 hits in seven innings, but pitched better than the numbers showed. Pawlowski said while it didn't work out for a win, it was big to see Dayton go deep into Friday night.

"That's what we're looking for, but unfortunately for us we couldn't get anything going offensively," Pawlowski said. "He gave us a chance to win. That's all you can ask from your starter. He went out there and battled and kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance."

Auburn got on the board first against the flame throwing Dyson as Ben Jones walked to lead off the second to get things started. With one out Brian Fletcher singled and Jones moved all the way to third. On the throw Fletcher moved to second to also get into scoring position. Shortstop Casey McElroy's ground ball then scored Jones to make it 1-0 Tigers.

The Gamecocks answered back and more in the bottom of the inning as Jackie Bradley Jr. reached on an infield single to lead things off. Back to back singles by Andrew Crisp and Parker Bangs followed to score the first run. Following an RBI groundout, Scott Wingo doubled to score the third run of the inning. It looked like it would be more as Whit Merrifield singled, but Trent Mummey gunned down Wingo at the plate to keep it 3-1 South Carolina.

Doing what they've done all season, the Tigers got a run back in the third with one swing of the bat as Kevin Patterson hit one deep to center field for a solo home run. That cut the lead to 3-2, but Dyson settled down to retire the side and would continue to do so until the bottom of the fifth when the Gamecocks would extend the lead.

With one out DeAngelo Mack singled and a walk to Nick Ebert put runners on first and second. Dayton came back to retire the next hitter for out number two, but Bradley again reached on an infield single. The throw from McElroy was wide at first, allowing Mack to score. Crisp then doubled to score both runners and make it 6-2 South Carolina.

The Tigers continued to chip away at the Gamecocks in the sixth as Mummey was hit by , a pitch to lead off the inning and Sanders followed with a single. Following a Jones fly ball to left, Mummey stole third as Hunter Morris struck out for the second out of the inning. Fletcher then came up big with a single up the middle to score Mummey and make it a three-run game. A McElroy strikeout brought Auburn's inning to a close down 6-3.

Dayton made it to the eighth, but a Crisp fly ball was dropped by in right field and the runner advanced to second base. That would be all for Dayton as reliever Chris O'Neil came on and got a fly ball for out number one, but a single by Bobby Haney scored the runner to put South Carolina up 7-3.

Later in the inning O'Neil took a line drive off the forehead. The ball bounced into right field allowing the final run to score for the Gamecocks. Sophomore Ty Kelley came on to get the third out of the inning, but it was too little and too late for the Tigers. The good news is that O'Neil ran off the field and Pawlowski said the preliminary reports are that he should be fine.

Auburn and South Carolina will play game two of the series Saturday at 4 p.m. eastern time with the game scheduled to be televised by SportSouth.

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