Gamecocks dominate Auburn in road SEC opener

The Gamecocks jumped all over Auburn starter Cory Luckie in the first 2 innings, and rode to victory behind a strong effort from starter Blake Cooper. 8 runs in their first two turns at bat, including two big 3-run homers from Parker Bangs and Adam Matthews were all it took for USC to register their 12th straight win.

Auburn had the offense that had gotten all the press coming into the game, but it was the Gamecocks that used the long-ball to their advantage early on. In the top of the 1st, Parker Bangs launched a monstrous shot over the green monster in left field to bring in three runs and set the tone early on.

In the 2nd inning, Scott Wingo led off with a home run of his own, and the Gamecocks went on to score 4 runs with two outs in the inning, finished off with Matthews' 3-run shot.

Not to be outdone, Creede Simpson added a 2-run homer for Auburn in the 1st off South Carolina starter Blake Cooper, and got RBI singles from Simpson and Ryan Jenkins in the 2nd.

After 12 combined runs in the 1st inning, neither team could score over the next three, with Auburn bringing in Jon Luke Jacobs in relief of Luckie. Three key Auburn errors allowed the Gamecocks to score a single run in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. Auburn's defensive failures were further compounded by the fact that their offense failed to show up for much of Friday's game.

Although he didn't get a decision in the game, Jacobs played a valuable role for Auburn, pitching 5.1 innings and only giving up 1 earned run on 5 hits. But it was the 2 unearned runs that really allowed the Gamecocks to stretch their lead and turn this game into a blowout.

With an 8-4 lead in his back pocket, Cooper was able to settle in for the long haul, shutting Auburn down for the next 5 innings. Despite giving up the 4 earned runs in the first couple innings, Cooper finished 7 innings pitched and 5 strikeouts.

When Jay Brown came in to relieve Cooper in the 8th, the Tigers were finally able to get a run back on a Wes Gilmer single. But it was too little, too late for Auburn, and Ethan Carter came in to get the last out of the 8th and hold Auburn scoreless in the 9th for the Gamecock victory.

The win gave South Carolina 4-0 start in the SEC, and preserved a winning streak that has now stretched to 12 games. With Florida falling to Ole Miss on Friday night, the Gamecocks moved into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Division.

In addition to Bangs and Matthews, USC was led by Wingo and Kyle Enders, who scored 2 runs and registered an RBI on the night.

The Tigers offense fell a little bit short overall, with big bats like Brian Fletcher and Hunter Morris being held down for much of the night. Morris finished with 2 doubles, the only extra base hits for Auburn outside of Simpson's home run.

Auburn, who brought a 7-game winning streak of their own into Friday's game, took their first SEC defeat of the year, and fell to 3-1 in the league.

Tomorrow's pitching matchup will pit Gamecock starter Sam Dyson against Auburn's Cole Nelson.

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