April 28, 2012
by Ryan Pederson and Koby Padgett
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Another tight contest tipped to Auburn (30-19, 9-15 SEC), as the Tigers claimed a 3-2 win over South Carolina in front of 739 fans at Beckham Field on Saturday night.
The Gamecocks (23-28, 3-21 SEC) took the early lead thanks to a pair of seniors. Centerfieler Lauren Lackey reached base after being hit by a 1-0 pitch and moved to third on sophomore second baseman Dana Hathorn's two-out single over the head of the Tiger second baseman. Senior third baseman Evan Childs knocked the 2-2 offering from Auburn starter Angel Bunner into left, scoring Lackey to put the Garnet and Black up 1-0.
Auburn gained its first lead of the day in the third. Baylee Stephens led off with a single through the left side and moved to second on Lauren Guzman's sacrifice bunt. After a fly out, Gamecock freshman starter Katelynn Howser got a swinging third strike that would have ended the inning, but the pitch in the dirt got away, allowing Brooke Lathan to reach. Stephens rounded third and slid in under the tag to score on the wild pitch, with Lathan taking second on the play. Elizabeth Eisterhold followed with an RBI single, bringing home Lathan to give Auburn a 2-1 advantage.
Carolina fought back to tie the game in the bottom half of the fourth. Back-to-back two-out doubles by sophomore rightfielder Chelsea Hawkins and freshman designated player Kristen Struett knotted the game at 2-2.
Eisterhold put the Tigers back on top in the fifth, driving a 3-2 pitch over the wall in center for a two-out, solo home run. Auburn threatened another two-out rally in the sixth, getting a leadoff infield single from Branndi Melero and a hit batsman on Stephens. However, Gamecock senior leftfielder Kaitlin Westfall shut down the threat when she gunned down Melero at the plate on Guzman's single.
South Carolina got the tying run on second in the sixth after an infield single by Childs and a sacrifice bunt from junior rightfielder Hannah Milks, but Auburn reliever Lauren Schmalz got a pair of fly balls to get out of the inning. Schmalz also pitched a perfect seventh for her second save in as many nights.
Bunner (12-4) took the win, pitching 5.1 innings and allowing two runs on seven hits. Howser (8-9) took the loss, giving up three earned runs on six hits and three walks in the complete-game performance. She struck out five.
Childs went 2-for-3 with an RBI for South Carolina, with Hawkins and Struett adding doubles. Eisterhold went 2-for-3 with the home run and two RBI. Melero also had two hits for the Tigers.
South Carolina closes out the 2012 home schedule and the current setup of Beckham Field on Sunday afternoon against the Tigers, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. Nine seniors will be honored prior to the game, with the ceremony slated to begin at 12:45 p.m.
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