AUBURN, Ala. - No. 11 USC clinched the road series win over Auburn Sunday with a close 4-3 victory in which the pitching staff delivered and the offense manufactured a late eighth inning go-ahead run.
"It was a big win for us and a big weekend for us," head coach Chad Holbrook said. "Finding a way to win a big series on the road like this, I hope it gives us more momentum moving forward."
Joel Seddon earned the win on the mound in 2.1 relief innings with two strikeouts and two hits allowed.
"I like going out there when the game is on the line," Seddon said. "I don't put any extra pressure on myself, I just try to go out there and try to focus on throwing strikes."
The offense started off where they left off from last night's ninth inning with two runs in the top of the first due to a ground rule RBI double by Joey Pankake and an RBI single by Grayson Greiner.
"We came out in the first inning and got two runs and that put even more weight off our shoulders," Greiner, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs today, said.
After two straight one-out walks, Blake Austin hit an RBI single to score Ryan Tella for Auburn's first run. Then a passed ball advanced Auburn's runners to second and third, but Wil Crowe managed to get the next two outs to end the first inning.
Both teams went down in order in the second inning.
USC increased their lead in the top of the third with a two-out RBI double by Greiner to make it 3-1.
Auburn responded in the bottom of the third with a two out rally consisting of three consecutive singles, the third being an RBI single.
Crowe pitched 1-2-3 innings in both the fourth and fifth.
But in the bottom of the sixth Austin led off with a single and Damon Haecker advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Later in the inning, Keegan Thompson hit a two-out RBI single to tie it at 3-3 before going to the seventh.
"I don't think (Crowe) was as sharp as he usually is but he battled and competed, which is his best trait," Holbrook said. "He didn't have the command that he usually has but he kept us in the game. That's all we ask our starter to do: keep us in the game."
Kyle Martin and Greiner hit back-to-back singles to start off the eighth to force Auburn to go to the bullpen for the third time of the game by putting closer Terrance Dedrick on the mound. Patrick Harrington then put down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third before Dedrick loaded up the bases with an intentional walk.
A sacrifice fly RBI by Gene Cone gave the Gamecocks the 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth.
Seddon gave up a pair of one-out singles then advanced the Auburn runners to second and third following a wild pitch. But he bounced back by striking out the next two batters to end the eighth.
Dedrick shut down the top of USC's lineup in order in the top of the ninth.
Seddon followed by shutting down the top of Auburn's order to clinch the series win.
After this weekend in Auburn, the Gamecocks improve to 30-10 overall and 10-8 in the SEC.
"When you play in the SEC on the road it's never going to be easy," Greiner said. "Auburn is a very talented team, their record is not really indicative of that but they've got talent. We were able to hold on to a big series win that I think we desperately needed."
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