Gamecocks take another series

Colby Holmes gave up just two earned runs earning the win in a career-high 7.1 innings as South Carolina defeated Auburn 10-2 and took its seventh straight SEC series in front of a sellout crowd of 8,242 fans Saturday at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina improves to 34-8 (16-4 SEC) on the season. The Gamecocks go for the sweep Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN.

After grinding out a 2-1 victory in Friday's series opener things were a little bit easier for the Gamecocks Saturday night.

South Carolina scored an early run in the second, three in the fourth and broke the game open with six in the seventh to win easily behind an excellent pitching performance from sophomore right-hander Colby Holmes.

"Tonight I really focused on throwing strikes and letting my off-speed work," Holmes said. "And it worked out for me."

Holmes went a career-high 7.1 innings and surrendered just two earned runs, four hits and three walks. He tied a career-high with seven strikeouts while throwing 90 pitches to 20 batters.

After giving up a solo home run by Kevin Patterson in the fourth, Holmes retired the next 11 batters in a row until a Justin Fradejas homer in the eighth.

"He might have been missing a little bit in the zone or out of the zone," head coach Ray Tanner said of some early struggles. "But his fastball was pretty good tonight. They put some pretty good swings on some of his fastballs. He threw his slider for strikes at times, his curveball and a change-up. ... You've got a chance for a hitter to have to think about four pitches and he was able to get some swings and misses in key situations or balls not hit that hard."

At that time, he gave way to left-hander Tyler Webb who gave up a hit and no runs in the final 1.2 innings of the contest.

Evan Marzilli, Jake Williams, Brady Thomas and Scott Wingo all had two hits a piece. Marzilli had two RBIs. Adrian Morales had two RBI sacrifice flies on the night. Robert Beary also added a two-RBI double. The Gamecocks out-hit the Tigers 11-5.

"Great win for us tonight being able to score 10 runs, we don't do that a whole lot," Tanner said. "We were able to have that six-run seventh, so that was huge for us. We pushed across some runs. We were pretty aggressive on the bases. It got us in trouble a couple of times but we were able to get a couple of runs because we were aggressive too."

The Gamecocks struck first in the bottom of the second when Brady Thomas led off the inning with a walk. Williams then doubled off the base of the left-center wall.

With Thomas on third, Morales flew out to shallow right field but third base coach Chad Holbrook decided to test the arm of Justin Fradejas. The throw was up the third base line and Thomas slid in safely to put the Gamecocks on top.

Auburn tied the score on Patterson's homer in the top of the fourth but Carolina wasted no time taking the lead again in the bottom half of the inning.

Following the same script from the second inning, Thomas led off with a walk and Williams delivered a hit after him. Morales' sacrifice bunt moved both runners up.

Marzilli then singled to left to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead. After Robert Beary was hit-by-pitch to load the bases, DeSean Anderson narrowly missed a grand slam as the no-doubter carried just foul. Anderson had to settle for a single RBI as his ground ball to third base was bobbled and everyone was safe as Carolina went up 3-1.

Reliever Zach Blatt came in for starter Derek Varnadore and promptly plunked Peter Mooney to make it 4-1 Carolina.

Despite coming in with a 3.67 ERA and 3-1 record, Varnadore never seemed to get comfortable. He earned the loss after giving up five hits, three earned runs and walking four in just 3.1 innings of work.

Blatt held the Gamecocks' hitters down until Carolina broke the game wide open when it batted around in the seventh inning and scored six runs on three hits, four walks and an error.

"I think once everyone's hitting in an inning you kind of want to get up there because you feel like you're no matter what going to have a good at-bat or going to be able to get a hit," Williams said. "So you're not necessarily going to calm yourself down but you ride with the adrenaline that's going."

South Carolina improves to 34-8 (16-4 SEC) on the season. Carolina has now won all seven of its SEC series this season and has defeated Auburn 11 straight regular season series.

"Honestly, I don't get too far ahead of anything," Tanner said. "I don't think about standings. ... That's foreign to me. I don't go there. There are some things you can't control. I don't allow myself to get into that situation. With our injuries, you could make excuses or try to figure it all out, you can't do it anyway. Honestly, [we] just try to play today and try to make the most of it and be prepared as much as we can be an live with the results."

The Gamecocks go for the sweep Sunday with first-pitched scheduled for 3 p.m. on ESPN.

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