Amid pitching and base running issues, No. 3 South Carolina lost a series at home for the first time this season, falling to Auburn 9-5 on Saturday.
The Tigers wasted no time getting on the board, going up 4-0 in the first thanks to an error and a pair of singles by Cole Foster and Kason Howell. Auburn tacked on two more runs in the next inning, making it 6-0 courtesy of homers by Nate LaRue and Bobby Peirce. The Gamecocks answered in the bottom of the inning, making the score 6-1 after Michael Braswell doubled to lead off and later scored on a double by Jonathan French. USC would’ve had a chance for more, but a base running error led to a double play, ending the threat.
Both teams scored again in the fifth. In the top of the inning, the Tigers pushed the lead to 8-1 with a home run by Cooper McMurray. In the bottom of the inning, Carson Hornung and Dylan Brewer both walked and came home when Cole Messina doubled, making it an 8-3 game. The Cocks had another scoring opportunity in the sixth with a runner on second, but another base running mistake resulted in another double play.
Carolina’s final two runs of the game came in the seventh, after Ethan Petry got hit by a pitch with two outs and Messina went yard, making it 8-5. Auburn scored the game’s final run in the ninth on a solo shot from McMurray.
Gamecocks starter Jack Mahoney pitched 3.1 innings and allowed three hits and three runs. He walked walked one batter, struck out three, and took the loss, making him 4-2. James Hicks and Cade Austin combined to go the rest of the way for USC. Tigers starter Christian Herberholz worked four innings and gave up three hits and one run. He issued four walks and struck six batters out. Reliever Konner Copeland earned the win and is now 3-1.
Messina led the Cocks at the plate with two hits and three RBI. Five different Auburn players tallied two hits each, while McMurray recorded three RBI.
South Carolina is now 34-8 overall and 13-6 in conference play, while the Tigers are 25-17-1 on the season and 9-11 in the SEC. The Gamecocks will try to avoid being swept on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. at Founders Park. Matthew Becker is slated to start on the mound for the home team.