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Jacobs' gem not enough

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Jon Luke Jacobs matched South Carolina ace Michael Roth pitch for pitch Friday night at Carolina Stadium. But Scott Wingo’s walkoff single off closer Dillon Ortman in the bottom of the ninth lifted the No. 2 Gamecocks to a 2-1 victory in the first game of a three-game series.

Auburn coach John Pawlowski said Tigers couldn't muster enough offense

The loss dropped Auburn to 23-19 overall and 9-10 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas, with a victory at Georgia, broke out of a three-way tie to take sole possession of first place in the West Division. Auburn and Ole Miss are a game behind.

South Carolina, which has not lost a series this season, improved to 33-8 and 15-4.

Jacobs gave up five hits and struck out nine in eight innings of work. Roth, the SEC’s most dominant pitcher this season, gave up seven hits in eight innings. His earned run average is 1.23.

Auburn coach John Pawlowski said Jacobs deserved better.

“Jon Luke did a great job for us tonight,” Pawlowski said. “Early in the ballgame he found his way out of some trouble, and he gave us everything he could. He was outstanding. We didn’t have too many opportunities and we couldn’t come up with one to scratch another run across.”

Jacobs, who hadn’t thrown more than 5 1/3 innings in any game this season, went a career-long eight innings before turning it over to Ortman in the ninth.

“This is a tough one,” Jacobs said. “Anytime you lose a 2-1 ballgame on Friday night in an environment like this it’s going to be tough. It was rocky in the beginning but I was able to settle in and pitch my game. I got stronger as the game went on and I felt good about it.”

Ortman hit Robert Beary with the first pitch he threw, and it proved costly. With Beary on second after a sacrifice bunt, Peter Mooney singled to put runners on first and third. With a 3-1 count, Wingo hit a drive into deep center to end it.

The teams traded single runs in the second as Justin Fradejas (2-for-5, RBI) drove in Creede Simpson (1-for-4) with a two-out single and Beary doubled in Evan Marzilli (1-for-4).

After getting out of the second, Jacobs retired 18 of the next 21 hitters he faced, allowing a fourth-inning leadoff single, a fifth-inning one-out walk and a two-out walk in the seventh.

John Taylor relieved Roth and pitched a perfect eighth inning to get the win. Ortman suffered the loss.

Auburn will try to even the series tonight at 6. Tiger ace Derek Varnadore (4-1, 3.67) will get the start against South Carolina right-hander Colby Holmes (3-1, 4.12).

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