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April 19, 2009

Box Score

Watch the Game

Columbia, S.C. – Justin Dalles tallied his first multi-homer game of his Gamecock career and DeAngelo Mack added a homer and three RBI as well as South Carolina defeated Auburn 10-4 to win the rubber game of a three-game SEC baseball series at Carolina Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Carolina improves to 26-14 and 9-9 in the SEC while the loss drops Auburn to 25-15 and 8-10 in league play. The Gamecocks return to action on Tuesday at USC-Upstate with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.

Carolina starter Blake Cooper went six-plus innings and allowed four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and five walks to pick up the win. He improved to 5-3 for the year. Relievers Curtis Johnson and Alex Farotto pitched three scoreless innings of relief to close out the contest for Carolina. Auburn starter Taylor Thompson suffered the loss and is 2-3 on the year. He allowed six runs on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 4.1 innings.

“I’m very happy to be able to win this series today,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “The difference between the teams in this conference is very small on a lot of weekends and we were able to put together a good enough game today. We rolled a couple of double play balls and we hit three home runs and they hit two and we came up big when we needed to. In this game, things happen and I think one of the pivotal situations was when (Ben) Jones hit the ball back to Curtis Johnson’s glove and we were able to get a double play. The ball went in his glove, unbeknownst to Cujo [Curtis Johnson}, and we were able to get a double play to get out of there.”

South Carolina broke ahead 2-0 in the first inning. Whit Merrifield was hit by pitch and scored on a two-run homer off the bat of Mack. Mack launched a 2-2 pitch from Thompson over the left field wall for his 11th home run of the season.

Auburn would get back a run in the top of the second as Casey McElroy scored on Kevin Patterson’s RBI base hit to left field. The Tigers tied it at 2-2 in the third inning as Joseph Sanders launched his 18th home run of the season to left center off the first pitch he saw from Cooper.

Carolina regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with the squad’s second home run of the game. After a leadoff walk to Jackie Bradley, Jr., Dalles launched the first of his two homers, a two-run shot to left center. Ben Jones brought Auburn back within a run in the top of the fifth with a solo homer to right field. Jones crushed a 1-1 pitch for his seventh round tripper of the year.

South Carolina struck back quick though in the bottom half with three runs to take a 7-3 lead. All three runs came with two outs. Merrifield would reach base on a one-out walk and Mack singled to give Carolina a pair of runners. With two outs, the Gamecocks scored a single run on a bloop RBI single to left field off the bat of Jackie Bradley, Jr off of reliever Scott Shuman. Carolina then loaded the bases against reliever Shuman with a walk to Justin Dalles. The Gamecocks would make Shuman pay as Andrew Crisp launched a RBI single to left field scoring both Mack and Bradley, Jr. and giving Carolina a four-run cushion.

Auburn looked to mount a rally in the seventh inning with a run on a one-out RBI base hit by Sanders. With runners on first and second base, Curtis Johnson got a key double play off a lined shot by Ben Jones, as he doubled off the runner at second to end the Tiger threat.

Carolina carried the momentum of that inning into the bottom half to score three more runs. Dalles led off with a monstrous home run to left field, his second of the game. That brought his total up to eight on the year. Merrifield added a sacrifice fly to center field and Mack singled home a run as Carolina built a six-run lead.

South Carolina finished with a 12-9 advantage in hits. Mack’s three hits were a team-high for Carolina. Dalles and Crisp were each 2-for-4 with Ebert 2-for-5 as well. Sanders and Hunter Morris led Auburn each going 3-for-4 on the afternoon. South Carolina has now 10 consecutive series against the Auburn Tigers dating back to the 1998 season. Carolina leads the all-time series history 32-17 with head coach Ray Tanner 27-9 overall against the Tigers.