The No. 19 Auburn Tigers hosted the South Carolina Gamecocks at Plainsman Park this weekend. Auburn came into this series after knocking off Alabama State and Kennesaw State on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. South Carolina came into this series after taking two out of three games against Ole Miss at home last weekend and beating Winthrop in Rock Hill, SC on Wednesday night.
The starting pitcher for Auburn in game one was Hayden Mullins. Brett Thomas was the starting pitcher for South Carolina. The Gamecocks got the scoring started for the weekend, as Kevin Madden was able to tag up on a fly-out from Colin Burgess in the top of the second inning. Auburn answered back in the bottom of the second inning as Cam Hill scored off a groundout by Brody Moore. Nathan LaRue also hit a home run for the Tigers that scored him and Cole Foster. South Carolina would not stay down for long however as Andrew Eyster hit a solo home run in the top of the third inning and Kevin Madden scored off a sacrifice bunt from Evan Stone in the top of the fourth inning to tie Auburn at three. Bobby Pierce hit a home run in the bottom of the seventh inning that put Auburn ahead 4-3. Sonny DiChiara hit a game-sealing home run in the bottom of the eighth inning that also scored Kason Howell. Blake Burkhalter was able to nail down the save Auburn in the top of the ninth inning. Auburn won by a score of 6-3. Butch Thompson had this to say about the game, “We got this series off to a good start.” He added, “This is a good win, but we've got to get back here tomorrow and be ready to play.” Right fielder Bobby Peirce said, “It could be the second inning and we could be down by eight, but we can grind it out.”
In game two, Trace Bright took the mound for Auburn and Noah Hall took the mound for South Carolina. Auburn had the better luck early offensively, as they scored a run in the second, third and fifth innings. South Carolina answered back in the top of the sixth inning however, as Braylen Wimmer hit a three-run shot over the left field wall to tie the game. The Gamecocks added on three more runs in the top of the seventh inning to put them up 6-3. Auburn did not panic however, as they scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, capped off by a home run from Nate LaRue. Cole Foster hit a home run for the Tigers in the bottom of the eighth inning to put Auburn up 8-6. Once again, Blake Burkhalter was able to nail-down the save in the top of the eighth inning and make sure Auburn picked up the 8-6 win. Head coach Butch Thompson had this to say, “I think we are starting to see some signs of maturity from our ballclub.” He added, “We stayed the course and buckled down offensively.” Brooks Carlson said, “This team doesn't give up.” He added, “We have a lot of veterans on this club who don't back down. When adversity happens to those guys, they almost seem to take advantage of it.”
For the series finale, Joseph Gonzalez got the nod for Auburn, and Will Sanders got the nod for South Carolina. Auburn got the scoring started in the bottom of the second inning as Cole Foster scored off a double hit by Nate LaRue. The Tigers tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth inning off a single from Blake Rambusch that scored Nate LaRue. Blake Burkhalter came in to nail down the save for Auburn in the top of the ninth inning. The Tigers swept an SEC series for the first time since 2019. Head coach Butch Thompson said, “Most of the things went our way. We got behind yesterday and the guys showed a ton of resolve.” When asked about Joseph Gonzalez, Thompson said “Joseph is Joseph”. Blake Burkhalter was asked about his work load this weekend. He answered, “I’m not as sore as I thought I’d be.” He added, “I woke up feeling ready to go. Everything worked out.”
Auburn will be back in action on Tuesday night as they travel to take on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at 6:00 PM. They will also travel up to Knoxville, TN next weekend for a series with the No.1 Tennessee Volunteers.