Auburn, Ala.--Brendan Winn had two home runs and four runs batted in to lead the South Carolina Gamecocks (34-13, 13-11) to a 12-11 comeback victory over Auburn (30-19, 10-14) Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park. The Tigers led 8-4 in the fourth inning and 11-9 again in the fifth, but South Carolina made the plays both offensively and defensively to earn the victory and the series win. It is the fourth SEC home series loss for Auburn this season.
The loss drops Auburn two games behind both Tennessee and Vanderbilt for eighth in the SEC with just six games remaining. Coach Steve Renfroe said the loss was a huge one for his team after playing so well for much of Sunday's game. While the offense came around to score 11 runs on 15 hits, it was the pitching that once again was the achille's heel for the Tigers.
Auburn starter Steven Register gave up seven runs on six hits in four and two/thirds innings in his first career start. He gave up three home runs on the day after allowing just three all season coming into Sunday. The junior said this is not the kind of day he was hoping for and his team is now fighting for its life with two weeks remaining in the league.
"It's tough," Register said. "Our hitters put us in a situation to win and we just didn't pitch. We didn't get the job done. It really puts us in a hole going into the last two weeks in the SEC."
Relievers Mike Felix, John Madden and Jared Shore didn't fare much better with Shore suffering the worst. The freshman allowed back-to-back doubles in the sixth inning that tied the game for South Carolina, the first coming on an 0-2 pitch. Renfroe said the pitching just didn't get it done on Sunday and that was the difference.
"To be honest it was really a frustrating game," Renfroe said. "You strike a guy out and he gets on to start an inning. Then you bring guys in and they walk and walk and walk. Then you get 0-2 and throw it down the middle. That hurt us there. We were trying to get to where we didn't have to go with Corey (Dueitt) and Chris (Dennis) for too long. Corey pitched great and Chris came in and looked like a closer. That was a tough, tough loss."
With one out in the top of the fifth and trailing 8-4, the Gamecocks began a comeback that would eventually be the difference in the game. Kevin Melillo started the rally with a single to right field, but was erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of Steven Tolleson for the second out of the inning. Unfortunately for Register two outs were not a relief on this day. A walk to Landon Powell put runners on first and second for Winn and the right fielder delivered with a long home run to bring the Gamecocks to within one.
That would be the end of Register's day, but not Auburn's problems as reliever Felix walked both Michael Campbell and Steve Pearce and fell behind Ryan Mahoney 1-0 before Renfroe went to Madden in the pen. Madden finished the walk of Mahoney off to load the bases for Davy Gregg. The center fielder hit a slow roller just in front of the mound that Madden fielded and threw low to Sain at first. The error allowed two runs to score to give South Carolina the 9-8 lead, but Auburn would answer back with a long ball of its own.
Leading off the bottom of the inning catcher Mike Hyntka collected his third hit of the day and fifth in a row in the series with a single to center field. A sacrifice bunt by Sain moved Hyntka to second and Tug Hulett reached on an error by the second baseman to bring Clete Thomas to the plate. On fire of late, Thomas drilled a long home run over the right center field wall to give Auburn back the lead, but again it wouldn't stand on this wild day at Plainsman Park.
Melillo led off a rally one more time for the Gamecocks with a walk off Madden to open the sixth. Renfroe again went to the bullpen, this time for freshman Jared Shore. The move wasn't a good one as Tolleson ripped a double down the left field line to score Melillo from first and make it 11-10 Tigers. The damage was just starting as Powell drilled a double of his own into the right field corner that scored Tolleson to tie the game. Renfroe then went to Dueitt and he responded with a strikeout of Winn before a single by Michael Campbell scored Powell from second for the eventual game-winner.
Early on it looked like the Tigers would walk away with the game as a big second inning put them in good position. Leading off the second Sean Gamble doubled to get things going and Josh Bell and Ben Sprague both singled to push across Gamble with the first run of the inning. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners up for Hyntka and he delivered with a ground-rule double over the right field wall to score both runs and give Auburn a 3-2 lead. Singles by Sain and Hulett and a Thomas sacrifice fly pushed across the final two runs of the inning to give Auburn a 5-2 lead. Two in the third and a single run in the fourth built the lead to 8-4 before the Gamecocks started the victory rally.
Leading the way at the plate for Auburn were Bell and Hyntka with three hits each. Thomas added two hits and four runs batted in for the second consecutive day while Hulett and Sprague also added two hits. Winn's three hits led South Carolina, but Melillo, Powell and Pearce all had two hits.
Sunday's game took over 5 hours to play because of a 1:31 rain delay before play began. Auburn returns to action Friday night at 6:30 p.m. when they take on Georgia in the first of three games at Plainsman Park. The Bulldogs have won 11 games in a row and are in second-place in the SEC East at 15-9.
Official SC Press Release
Winn Homers Twice, McCamie Halts Auburn As Gamecocks Earn 12-11 Win
Auburn, Ala. - Brendan Winn drove in four runs with a pair of home runs and Zac McCamie cooled off the red hot Auburn offense Sunday as South Carolina rallied to a see saw 12-11 win to take a Southeastern Conference baseball series two games to one.
McCamie pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings after Auburn had rocked the Gamecocks for 14 hits and 11 runs through the first five. McCamie allowed just two base runners, an infield hit by Josh Bell and a walk to Chuck Jeroloman and both were wiped out by two of three Gamecock double plays.
McCamie improved his record to 4-0 and the loss went to Jared Shore, 0-1, the fourth of six Auburn pitchers. Sixth ranked South Carolina improved its overall record to 34-13, 13-11 in the SEC. Auburn, ranked 20th, dropped to 30-19, 10-14, despite out hitting the Gamecocks for the third consecutive game. Auburn finished with 15 hits Sunday to 13 by the Gamecocks. South Carolina scored its first nine runs with two outs.
Steven Register, making his first career start after 68 Auburn relief appearances over three seasons, lasted 4 2/3 innings and was charged with seven earned runs on six hits and a pair of walks. He gave up a two run first inning homer to Landon Powell and both Winn homers, a solo shot in the fourth and a three run job in the fifth that sent Register to the showers. The two long ones raised Winn's season home run total to 16. Powell hit his 14th.
After the Powell homer staked South Carolina to a 2-0 first inning lead Auburn struck for five runs in the second inning off Gamecock starter Arik Hempy. The Tigers batted around with six hits in the inning. Mike Hnytka had a two run double, one of his three hits in the game. Ben Sprague, Derek San and Tug Hulett also drove in runs during the inning.
The Auburn lead rose to 7-2 in the third inning when the Tigers scored twice on two hits and two hit batters. A line smash off Hempy's arm deflected to shortstop Steven Tolleson who turned a double play to prevent further damage but Hempy was forced to leave the game.
Winn's first homer and an RBI double by Ryan Mahoney plated two South Carolina runs in the fourth inning but Auburn scored one in the bottom of the inning to lead 8-4. South Carolina took a 9-8 lead in the top of the fifth with five runs on only two hits. Three walks, an error and Winn's second homer of the game figured in the scoring.
Auburn quickly regained the lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth on a three run home run by Clete Thomas, his third of the year and Auburn's first of the series. South Carolina homered seven times in the three games, three of them by Winn.
McCamie relieved Cliff Donald with one out and the Gamecocks trailing 11-9 in the bottom of the fifth. McCamie shut the door and South Carolina scored three times in the top of the sixth to gain the lead for good, 12-11.
A walk, back to back doubles by Steven Tolleson and Powell, and an RBI single by Michael Campbell accounted for the winning rally.
South Carolina faces a busy week with five games scheduled. The Gamecocks travel to Fort Mill to meet North Carolina Tuesday night in the Charlotte Knights park. That game will make up one rained out earlier this season. The Gamecocks play at The Citadel Wednesday night and return to Sarge Frye Field Friday through Sunday to meet Tennessee in a Southeastern Conference series.
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