The Daily Gamecock

Offensive struggles continue as Gamecocks are shut out in loss to Auburn

For the second straight game, the South Carolina offense struggled to do much of anything on Sunday as the Gamecocks lost 3-0 in the series finale against Auburn.

A win would have given South Carolina, a team desperately fighting to make the NCAA tournament for a 16th consecutive season, a fourth series win over an RPI Top-40 ball club, but the Gamecocks’ inability to produce at the plate once again proved costly for head coach Chad Holbrook’s group.

“We just didn’t obviously to win the game from an offensive standpoint,” Holbrook said. “Gotta give credit to Auburn pitchers.”

Following a 10-1 series-opening win against the Tigers on Friday, South Carolina put together only two runs and eight hits in the final 18 innings of the series as the Gamecocks missed an opportunity to have a successful weekend against an an Auburn team that appears to be on its way to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010.

Auburn junior starting pitcher Dalton Rentz pitched 4.2 scoreless innings, while junior relief pitchers Justin Camp and Trey Wingenter held the Gamecocks scoreless for the rest of the afternoon.

“Auburn did a really good job pitching collectively throughout the game,” South Carolina junior second baseman DC Arendas said. “The few opportunities we did have, they made some really good pitches, so we couldn’t capitalize in those situations.

A series victory against the Tigers, winners of 11 of their last 13, would have certainly improved South Carolina’s pedestrian postseason resume. However, the Gamecocks must now face powerhouses Texas A&M and LSU in its final two SEC series of the regular season.

For that reason, the Gamecocks have their work cut out for them, but also view this weekend as a wasted chance. South Carolina led 2-0 for the first six innings of Saturday’s game before imploding late and the Gamecocks couldn’t take advantage of a solid start by freshman Clarke Schmidt on Sunday, either.

“Saturday and Sunday, Auburn played better than we did,” Arendas said. “We didn’t do enough offensively today to help Clark out.”

Schmidt lasted only 5.1 innings and gave up three earned runs, but the Acworth, Georgia native received no run support and gave his team an opportunity to win.

South Carolina’s best chance at manufacturing any sort of offense came in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Gamecocks had two runners in scoring position with two outs while trailing 1-0, but junior designated hitter Max Schrock grounded out to first base.

Meanwhile, the Tigers were able to do just enough with the bat to come away victorious.

Auburn struck first in the fifth inning when a sacrifice fly to center field by sophomore right fielder Damon Haecker sent in sophomore catcher Blake Logan.

The Tigers were then able upon their lead in the sixth inning as Schmidtstruggled in his final inning. A one-out double to center field by sophomore third baseman Kyler Deese plated two runs for Auburn and ended Schmidt’s day.

From that point on, South Carolina found itself in a hole far too deep for its offense to climb out of.

South Carolina sophomore relief pitcher Reed Scott allowed only one base runner in 3.1 innings of work, but the Gamecocks didn’t come close to plating a run.

The 1-6 batters in the Gamecock lineup batted a combined 1-21 at the plate, while senior first baseman Kyle Martin, South Carolina’s most dangerous hitter, went 0-4.

Now with eight games remaining in the regular season, Holbrook hopes his team will be able to play consistent baseball, something the Gamecocks haven’t been able to do all year.

“Sometimes baseball can be a very cruel game and we’re seeing that right now,” Holbrook said. “We’ve gotta try to keep our kids’ morale high and fight to the end and maybe we can catch a few breaks here and there.”

South Carolina returns to action on Wednesday against Wofford.