March 18, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. -
The Auburn baseball team rallied twice to send the game into extra innings but South Carolina put four runs on the board in the top of the 12th inning to hold off the resilient Tigers, 12-8, on Friday night at Plainsman Park.
"I am really proud of the way our guys competed and came back time and time again and just kept getting after them," AU Head Coach Tom Slater said. "That is a good South Carolina ballclub. We have to be a little cleaner throughout the game because some defensive miscues cost us some runs, otherwise we win that game."
Trailing the ninth-ranked Gamecocks by two runs, 5-3, heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers (10-11, 0-1 SEC) put together a two-out rally to send the game into extra innings. Bruce Edwards (0-for-5, BB, HBP, R) led off the inning when he was hit by a pitch and moved to second on Josh Donaldson's (3-for-6, BB, HR, 3 R, RBI) two-out single through the left side of the infield. Andy Bennett (1-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI) then roped a double to the wall in right center, knotting the game at 5-5.
South Carolina (16-2, 1-0 SEC) seemed to squelch Auburn's momentum when USC scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning, but again the Tigers put together a rally to keep the game going. Justin Bristow (2-for-4, 2 BB, R) led off the inning with a walk and then moved to second when Ben Jones (0-for-5, BB, R) also drew a walk. The Tigers then loaded the bases as Edwards drew a walk. A slow roller by Tyler Johnstone allowed Bristow to score from third and everyone else was safe as the USC infield was playing at double-play depth. Russell Dixon (2-for-7, 2 RBI) then put a charge in the ball, singling home Jones and bringing the Tigers within a run, 8-7.
Only one down and the tying run on third, USC catcher Trent Kline allowed a passed ball to get by him, scoring Edwards with the tying run. The Tigers could not get the winning run across, however, as USC reliever Wynn Pelzer sandwiched two strikeouts around a walk to end the inning.
USC scored the game winner as Chris Brown doubled to right center in the top of the 12th and scored on Robbie Grinestaff's double two batters later.
The outcome overshadowed a brilliant performance by AU starting pitcher Chris Dennis, who, making his first start after missing his last two, allowed just one run on four hits and four walks in 5.0 innings.
Peter Wiggins (3-1) was tagged with the loss after working 2.2 innings out of the bullpen, surrendering seven runs on five hits and four walks.
Pelzer (1-0) earned the win for the Gamecocks as he pitched 3.0 innings without allowing a run while striking out six.
Johnstone's infield single in the 10th extended his streak of games reaching safely to 31.
The two teams will play the second game of the series on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. Auburn will send So. RHP Brett Butts (2-3, 4.33 ERA) to the hill while the Gamecocks will counter with Fr. RHP Mike Cisco (1-0, 0.00 ERA). The game can be seen on CSS.