USC wins thrilling pitching duel in the ninth

Senior Scott Wingo delivered the game-winning single to center field scoring Robert Beary with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated Auburn 2-1 in game-one of the three-game SEC series at Carolina Stadium Friday night. John Taylor received the win as South Carolina improved to 33-8 (15-4 SEC) on the season.

Wingo strolled to the plate with the winning run 90 feet away after failing to register a hit and striking out three times in his first four at-bats. Head coach Ray Tanner says he told Wingo to be ready for a possible bunt signal if the defense's alignment called for it.

But the senior second baseman assured his head coach that wouldn't be necessary.

And has he so often has in the clutch, Wingo delivered, driving the 3-1 pitch to deep center field. Auburn center fielder Creede Simpson chased the ball down but it glanced off his glove as Beary, who held at third in case it was caught, strolled home and touched the plate for the winning run.

"This game will humble you for sure. I was thinking at this last at bat here got to give it my all and it turned out well," Wingo said.

It may have been an easy jog home for Beary but that second run didn't come easy for the Gamecocks. Since Beary doubled home a run in the second inning South Carolina registered just a lone hit through the eighth as the Gamecocks and Tigers were deadlocked in a 1-1 game.

Fittingly, it was Beary, who had hit the ball hard all night, that led off the ninth by getting hit-by-pitch.

"I was looking for something up to drive it but I just stayed in there and took the hit," Beary said. "Late in the game you can't shy away from that in a close game. You got to stay in there take the hit and get on base."

"We knew for a tie game the most important thing is to get the leadoff guy on and when that happened I knew we were gonna get something going," Wingo said.

Freshman DeSean Anderson then failed to get down a bunt in his first two strikes but dropped it down perfectly on a 2-2 pitch to put Beary in scoring position. A Peter Mooney single to right put Beary at third setting up Wingo to be the hero.

"It's a great approach," Tanner said of how his team has been able to win so many close games. "We don't take the approach that we're unbeatable and all we've got to do is show and go and throw our gloves out there. We're not good enough to do that. And guys fight, they scratch and claw and try to figure out a way to win if we have an opportunity."

Dillon Ortman took the loss after recording just the single out on Anderson's sacrifice in the ninth.

South Carolina starter Michael Roth and Auburn starter Jon Luke Jacobs each pitched well enough to win but neither figured into the decision.

Roth pitched eight innings giving up an earned run, seven hits, a walk and two hit batsmen while striking out six.

Jacobs also went eight innings giving up an earned run, five hits and five walks while striking out nine.

"Roth battled his rear end off for us and kept us in a position to win," Tanner said. "Jon Luke Jacobs for Auburn was really special he was mixing and matching sneaking and locating his fastball, changeup, his curveball was really good. He just seemed to throw a breaking ball in the zone he needed too and when he didn't he would throw one that we would offer at. ... He was very special. It was a pitchers' duel and we were fortunate to push a run across."

Auburn struck first in the top of the second when Justin Fradejas lined a two-out RBI single to left scoring Simpson.

The Gamecocks struck back immediately when Evan Marzilli led off the bottom of the inning with a single off the glove of second baseman Justin Hargett. Beary then doubled off the base of the left-centerfield wall to tie the game.

Beary, who was 2-for-3 on the night, and Mooney (2-for-4) were the only two Gamecocks with multiple hits. Fradejas (2-for-5) was the only Tiger with two hits.

Roth was helped out by great defense behind him all night long. The biggest play possibly coming with an out in the top of the ninth when Jake Williams came up with a diving catch on the left field line that would have surely gone for a double had it gotten passed him.

Mooney also played great defense at shortstop, Adrian Morales had a diving stop at third, Evan Marzilli made a nice catch in center field and Christian Walker made several picks out of the dirt at first.

"We have been playing great defense," Tanner said. "Sometimes though you don't realize what the defense did for you, but it kept you out of trouble. When you are making plays sometimes it goes unnoticed, but when you are making plays you are keeping your team out of those deficit innings. You may trail, but you're not down by much because you are able to stay in there with your defense and that's been really important for us."

South Carolina improved to 33-8 (15-4 SEC) on the season while Auburn falls to 23-19 (9-10 SEC).

Game two of the series is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised on SportSouth.

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