USC evens SEC record with 8-3 win over Auburn

The South Carolina baseball team returned to .500 in conference play with a big 8-3 win over Auburn in game one of this weekend's three-game series. USC starter Sam Dyson induced numerous fly ball outs and recorded five strikeouts en route to getting his team leading sixth win of the season. For more details, continue reading below.

Dear Momentum, welcome back.

The South Carolina baseball team returned to the win column on Friday night with a 8-3 victory over Auburn in game one their three-game series this weekend. They also evened their SEC record to 8-8 with 14 conference games left in the season. But most importantly, the Gamecocks pulled a little confidence and possibly some momentum back in their corner.

"We started out the season playing uphill and this is the (third) time we've been even. So it'll be a tough one tomorrow but we've got to keep playing and we've got to try to win as many as we can," USC coach Ray Tanner said. "You to have a string, seven or eight where you play pretty good and they you have a chance to win 60-70 percent of those and that's what you've got to do this time of year. Maybe this game will catapult us a little bit but tomorrow's a new day."

After taking two of three from Ole Miss last weekend, Carolina cruised past the College of Charleston 20-6 in a midweek game. However an extra inning 5-3 loss to The Citadel on Wednesday left the team scratching its head as they enter the back stretch of the season.

But the Gamecocks (25-13, 8-8 SEC) did their best to erase any thoughts of a late season slump as they answered an early Auburn lead and put distance on the scoreboard late.

Along with timely offense, USC also got a sterling outing from starter Sam Dyson who pitched his first career complete game and allowed three runs on six hits while striking out eight.

The Tigers (24-14, 7-9 SEC) who came into the night leading the league in home runs took swings that went into the air. They just didn't leave the yard.

Dyson induced 12 combined fly ball or pop up outs in the game, including a first inning with two pop ups on the infield and fly ball to right that ended with just six pitches.

"They swung early in the count and I guess I just beat them on a couple of pitches and they were a little late or a little early and they popped it up," Dyson said.

Auburn used a leadoff walk to Ben Jones to score their first run as Brian Fletcher notched a single and put both runners in scoring position on the throw from the outfield. Casey McElroy grounded out to short for an RBI and 1-0 lead. But that didn't last long as the Gamecocks responded with four singles and a double in the third to score three runs and take a 3-1 lead. The Tigers cut into the lead in top of the third as No. 9 hitter Kevin Patterson hit a leadoff home run to make it 3-2. But from there Dyson went into lockdown mode, retiring nine of the next 10 batters he faced.

USC added insurance runs in the fifth as two singles, a walk and an error scored one run and left two on base. That's when second baseman Andrew Crisp stepped in and hit a two-out double that scored two more runs and put USC comfortably up at 6-2. Crisp cited Dyson's strong outing as a comforting factor for the offense which scored multiple runs in three innings.

"He's a monster man. Anybody who throws 99 is going to throw it by me," Crisp said. "Just keep doing what you're doing Dyson. Just keep doing your job."

Dyson gave up his final run on the night in the sixth as leadoff man Trent Mummey was hit-by-pitch during the first at-bat and moved to second on a Joseph Sanders single. Brian Fletcher hit a two-out single to make it 6-3.

The Tigers looked like they might continue to chip away at the lead as Tony Caldwell led off the seventh with a double. That's when Dyson responded by going on to retire the last nine hitters he faced in order, including five strikeouts.

Carolina put the game away in the eighth as Crisp reached on a double in right field to start the inning and advanced to third on a sack fly to the warning track by pinch hitter Jeffery Jones. Shortstop Bobby Haney singled him in and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Scott Wingo.

After Whit Merrifield was issued a walk, DeAngelo Mack recorded his third hit of the night and most likely his scariest. Mack lined a ball of relief pitcher Chris O'Neil's face allowing Merrifield to score as the ball landed in right field. O'Neil stood up and eventually walked off the field and though he asked the Auburn coaches to stay in the game he was taken off as a precautionary measure.

At the start of the game, Dyson was only topping out in the mid-80s with his fastball. In the ninth inning, the sophomore posted numerous 90 mph numbers including a 99 mph reading on 134 pitches. That in game improvement was one that had Tanner impressed.

"A lot of times in baseball game you go as your pitchers go and Sam Dyson was very, very good tonight. He came up with some big pitches when he needed to against an offensive team that could throw some runs on the board in a hurry. That was a big outing, a great outing from Sam," Tanner said. "(Earlier in the game) he said I feel like I'm pushing it a little bit. And I said just keep getting after it, maybe it'll start coming out. He really did get better as the game went on."


-With three hits on the night, Andrew Crisp now has 233 career hits good enough for sole possession of 9th place all-time in the USC history books. The next mark is Hank Smalls with 245.

-Parker Bangs extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a second inning single.

-Nick Ebert and Crisp's two doubles on the night make them the fourth and fifth Gamecocks this season with two doubles in one game.

-The eight strikeouts tied a career high for Sam Dyson.

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