After a fairly wild series, the Gamecocks wrapped up a series sweep over the Auburn Tigers this afternoon. The win brings Carolina to 30-11 / 11-7, while Auburn drops to 21-19 / 7-11. The Gamecocks have won four straight SEC series, have notched two-straight sweeps, and have an eight-game winning streak in the league. Now if we could only figure out those mid-week games!
First things first: It wasn't always pretty this weekend. Pitching was a bit shaky at times, and while we scored lots of runs, quite a few of them were unearned. For some people, that might put this set of wins in a slightly different light, and those concerns are valid, particularly regarding the pitching. Although Jordan Montgomery pitched well again this weekend, it's not so clear that Michael Roth and Colby Holmes's performances would have won games against teams that are better than Auburn, which is most SEC teams. Roth gave up four ER in 6.2 IP, while Holmes gave up four in five. That said, I think it is worth noting, in both cases, that we had big leads when the bleeding started. The pressure wasn't on to dominate. Particular in Roth's case, you would have seen Tanner pull Roth much earlier if we didn't have such a big lead. We were clearly trying to take Roth deep in a game where it didn't look like we would need to expend any significant energy from our quality bullpen guys. Early in the game, Roth looked more like his old self, and we could have left it at that if he had been taken out once he got to around 100 pitches. As it was, he ended up throwing 137, so it's no wonder he got hit late in the game.
Batting-wise, I thought we played pretty well, just not as well as the runs totals indicate. We scored 28 runs over the weekend...on 29 hits. You don't see that everyday. Auburn was extremely error-prone over the weekend, recording eight snafus. The Gamecocks took advantage, recording eight unearned runs. It is worth pointing out that Auburn outhit us in the last two games, with the errors making a particularly big difference in the final contest. That said, it's worth remembering that we were the team crapping the game away early in the season. Moreover, we do get credit for taking advantage of AU's mistakes; it seemed like every time Auburn screwed up, we got a big hit in the next at bat to make them pay.
At 11-7 in the league, Carolina is now tied with Florida for second place in the SEC East. The Gators won a hard-fought series against UGA. Kentucky sits atop the division and the league as a whole with a 13-5 record. The 'Cats again proved they're for real with a huge series win over LSU, the second team in the overall standings. Next weekend's series against Alabama is another big one for Carolina in terms of the league standings. I hate to sound greedy, but we need another sweep against the Tide, who have struggled this year but are coming off a series win over Vandy. We're very much in the running for top dog in the East, but with Kentucky and Florida playing so well, the margin for error is thin, and our chances of sweeping Arkansas, Georgia, or LSU. A sweep against the Tide will set us up nicely for a good finish to the division race.