The Daily Gamecock

Stellar performances by Wynkoop, Martin lead South Carolina past Auburn

South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook doesn’t want to think about what this season would be like if it wasn’t for senior first baseman Kyle Martin and junior Jack Wynkoop.

As rough as 2015 has been for the Gamecocks, those two players have kept South Carolina (27-19, 10-12 SEC) afloat during tough times and once again rose to the occasion in Friday’s series-opening 10-1 win over a red-hot Auburn team (30-17, 10-12 SEC).

Following two impressive outings against Vanderbilt and Tennessee, Wynkoop once again excelled on the mound, giving up zero earned runs in eight innings of work, while Martin was responsible for seven of South Carolina’s runs thanks to a two-home run performance.

“It was really special watching Wynkoop pitch and obviously K-Mart had a perfect night,” Holbrook said. “Two for two with two walks and seven RBIs, that was a special evening.”

The win was a much-needed one for South Carolina as the Gamecocks hope to play their best baseball of the season in the upcoming weeks in an attempt to make the NCAA tournament for the 16th consecutive season.

Less than a week after saying his team doesn’t deserve to reach the postseason, Holbrook was very pleased with the performance he got from his group of guys against an Auburn team that had nine of its last 10 games prior to Friday.

Of course, a successful night for South Carolina is much more likely whenever the ball is in Wynkoop’s hands.

“I think we’re a much more confident team when he’s out there because he’s pitching very, very well and we know we’re going to have a chance to win,” Holbrook said.

Since his fellow pitcher Wil Crowe was lost for the season due to an elbow injury a few weeks back, Wynkoop has stepped up in a major way.

The Virginia Beach, Virginia native has allowed just two earned runs in his last 25.1 innings on the mound and Wynkoop struck out 10 Auburn batters as he continuously hit his spots

Wynkoop allowed one unearned run early on as Auburn took a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but the Gamecocks’ ace was nearly flawless for the rest of the night.

“I’m just trying to be consistent and make pitches and let the defense work behind me and they’ve done a tremendous job,” Wynkoop said. “This is a big part of our season right here, so I’m just trying to do everything I can to put us in a position to win just like everyone else is.”

While no longer having Crowe available for action has certainly hurt the Gamecocks, Wynkoop’s recent hot stretch on the mound has come at a crucial time for South Carolina.

“With what he’s done the last three starts, I can’t tell you how much it means to me as a coach because obviously there’s been some difficult moments around here,” Holbrook said.

For once, the South Carolina pitching staff had a plethora of run support, as well.

Martin was the man who played a huge role in that.

In the midst of a very successful senior campaign, Martin produced a career-high seven RBIs. His two-run home run broke open a tied game in the fifth inning. Martin then drove in a run via a sacrifice fly in the seventh before hitting a grand slam in the eighth.

“I was feeling good,” Martin said. “BP wasn’t all that great, but just kind of cleared it, went up there. We were up a little bit, so I could settle in up there, so that really helped a lot.”

Martin is the first Gamecock to record seven RBIs in a game since former South Carolina outfielder Adam Matthews did so in 2011 against College of Charleston.

Having played in 46 games in 2015, Martin leads South Carolina with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs.

South Carolina faces Auburn once again on Saturday at 3:30 PM as the Gamecock start sophomore Taylor Widener on the mound.


--After missing the last two games of this past weekend’s Tennessee series with an Achilles tendon injury, junior second baseman Max Schrock was back in the lineup for the Gamecocks on Friday as he went 2-4 at the plate with a double while also drawing a walk. Schrock also injured his hand before the game, but an MRI came back negative.

“He sucked it up and played anyway,” Holbrook said. “It was special to watch him play and I think he didn’t think he could at one point today and I certainly didn’t. I was really pessimistic.

--Holbrook was pleased with the way sophomore catcher Logan Koch played behind the plate. Holbrook commented on how Koch did a solid job of keeping balls in the dirt in front of him, while also swinging the bat well.

--Widener’s start on Saturday will be his second of the season. The Aiken, South Carolina native gave up four earned runs in 3.1 innings of work against Florida earlier in the season in his prior starting assignment.