AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn brought the tying run to the plate twice in the ninth inning but both hitters looked at strike three as the Auburn baseball team couldn't avoid a sweep at the hands of No. 6 South Carolina, falling 11-7 on Sunday. The loss dropped Auburn's record to 21-19, 7-11 SEC while South Carolina improved to 30-11, 11-7.
Trailing 11-4 going to the bottom of the ninth, Auburn rallied for three runs on five hits before South Carolina closer Matt Price got the final two outs to send Auburn to an eighth loss in its last nine conference games.
Auburn was in a four-run hole after the first as South Carolina capitalized on a walk, two errors and an Erik Payne home run off of Daniel Koger (2-4). The lead was extended to 8-1 after the top of the fifth as Koger would be roughed up for eight runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings, suffering his third straight loss.
"Against good teams if you give up free bases or extra bases, meaning we couldn't handle the ball in certain situations, it is going to come back and hurt you and in that first inning we didn't do a good job of damage control," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said.
Auburn fought back with three runs in the bottom half of the fifth to cut the deficit in half, 8-4, highlighted by Creede Simpson's two-run home run to left-center, his first home run of the season.
South Carolina answered with a run in the seventh and two in the eighth to go up 11-4 before Auburn's ninth-inning rally. Ryan Tella, Garrrett Cooper and Cullen Wacker all singled to load the bases off of South Carolina bullpen mates Evan Beal and Tyler Webb. After Webb struck out Zach Alvord, Kody Ortman, who finished with four hits on the day and drove in three runs, singled in two, making it 11-6. Price then came on and issued a walk to Simpson to reload the bases for Jay Gonzalez, who singled in Auburn's final run of the game, before striking out Patrick Savage and Dan Glevenyak.
South Carolina starter Colby Holmes (6-0) earned the win, allowing four runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out seven.
Tanner English had four hits for South Carolina while Payne finished with four RBIs.
Auburn out-hit South Carolina, 36-29, for the series but was out-scored 28-15.