COLUMBIA, S.C. – Seven walks and a hit batter by Auburn pitchers turned into four runs Sunday, and No. 2 South Carolina completed a series sweep with a 7-3 victory at Carolina Stadium.
Wes Gilmer drove in two of Auburn's three runs Sunday
The sweep, the third suffered by Auburn this season, left the Tigers at 23-21 overall and 9-12 in the Southeastern Conference. But in the wild West Division, the Tigers are just a game behind Alabama and Arkansas, tied for first place.
“The first four or five innings, we were in damage control every inning,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “It’s hard to keep doing that against good teams.”
With three series remaining, the Tigers still control their own postseason destiny. They play Georgia and Alabama at home the next two weekends, then play struggling Tennessee on the road.
“Our kids are working hard,” Pawlowski said. “They know what we have to do to win.”
All six West Division teams are in striking distance of first place. Ole Miss is tied with Auburn for third. Mississippi State is just a game behind the Tigers and Rebels, and LSU is just a game behind the Bulldogs.
Auburn starter Cory Luckie struggled, walking five and giving up three hits in 1 1/3 of an inning. South Carolina took a 3-1 lead in the second inning and never trailed. Auburn scored just six runs the entire weekend, falling 2-1 Friday and 10-2 Saturday.
But after Jon Luke Jacobs had a career outing Friday, the Tigers struggled mightily on the mound. For the weekend, Auburn pitchers issued 19 walks and hit five batters.
The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth, but Cullen Wacker blistering line drive turned into a game-ending double play.
Wes Gilmer drove in two of Auburn’s runs, one on a sacrifice fly and one on an RBI single.
South Carolina, which has won all seven of its SEC series, improved to 35-8 overall and 17-4 in the SEC.