Founders Park: For the first time since the Clemson series in early March, USC came up empty in a series opener falling Friday night to Auburn 8-3 at Founders Park. The loss was just the second at home this season for the Gamecocks and it drops their record to 34-7 overall and 13-5 in the SEC.
With Vanderbilt’s win over Kentucky, the Commodores have moved ahead of the Gamecocks by a half-game in the SEC East.
The Tigers broke open a 1-1 game with two runs in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth. off Gamecock ace Will Sanders. A two-run homer by Cole Foster accounted for the fourth inning runs. A sacrifice fly and two RBI singles brought in the Tigers’ fifth inning runs.
The Gamecocks could manage only single runs in the first, fifth and eighth innings though they had chances for more with nine hits and drew seven walks, but they left 12 on base. The Gamecocks were just three for 17 with runners on base and two for 11 with runners in scoring position. Auburn was seven for 18 with runners on base.
Sanders pitched six innings and allowed all eight of the Auburn runs. His ERA now stands at 6.28 with a 4-2 record. He gave up eight hits while striking out four and walking two. Eli Jerzembeck and Austin Williamson finished up and allowed two hits over the final three innings.
Auburn starter Tommy Vail went five innings and earned the win to improve to 4-1. He allowed four hits and two runs while striking out seven and walking six. . The Tigers are 24-17-1 and 8-11 in the SEC.
The Gamecocks saw another key player forced to leave the game due to injury. Shortstop Braylen Wimmer suffered an apparent hamstring injury attempting to beat out a ground ball in the bottom of the seventh. Coach Mark Kingston said after the game he would know more on Wimmer’s situation Saturday morning.
Prior to the game, USC retired the jersey of former star pitcher Kip Bouknight. His number 14 represents the third retired jersey number adorning the left field wall in Founders Park.
Game two of the series is scheduled for 4:00 PM Saturday. Jack Mahoney will go to the mound for USC.