The Gamecocks took an early lead, proceeded to do a whole lot of nothing on offense, were plagued by a lackluster bullpen, and allowed things to get out of hand late. Sound familiar?
South Carolina was first on the board today, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Elliott Caldwell led off with a walk, Alex Destino singled, both advanced on a sac bunt from DC Arendas, and Caldwell came home thanks to an RBI groundout by Connor Bright.
They added their only other run of the day in the next inning. Jordan Gore started things off with a single, an error got Max Schrock on base with one out, and Kyle Martin walked to load the bases. Caldwell walked as well, forcing in a run, but the Gamecocks left the bases loaded after that.
Auburn tied things up in the seventh inning. Damon Haecker singled, Jordan Ebert walked, and with one out, Cody Nulph knocked an RBI single to get his team on the board. Ebert then came home on an RBI single by Sam Gillikin.
The Tigers took the lead in the next inning, plating two more runs. Melvin Gray took a leadoff walk, Anfernee Grier singled, and Daniel Robert got one run home with an RBI sac fly. A South Carolina error allowed Grier to score.
The final two Auburn runs came in the ninth inning. Nulph started things off with a base hit, then came home on a one-out RBI sac bunt from Kyler Deese. A base hit by Gray then brought Deese across the plate.
Starter Taylor Widener did a really nice job, pitching into the sixth inning. He allowed just one hit, no runs, walked two batters and struck out seven, a career high. Unfortunately, the bullpen was nowhere near as impressive. Vince Fiori, Cody Mincey, Josh Reagan, Brandon Murray, John Parke, and Canaan Cropper all took the mound in this game, combining to give up seven hits and six runs.
It seems this game (and many others this season) can be summed up in one word: welp.
Actually, there are a lot of words that would work: bad, discouraging, sad, worrisome, troubling, unpleasant, frustrating, infuriating...you get the idea. This team's affinity for collapsing completely when things get bad is a problem that has been on display on and off all season long, and frankly, it's embarrassing.
The Gamecocks drop to 27-20 overall and 10-13 in the SEC, while Auburn is now 31-17 overall and 11-12 in conference play. They'll meet for the rubber match on Sunday at Carolina Stadium, with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m.