*From Auburn Media Relations*
HOOVER, Ala. - Auburn's stay at the 2012 SEC Baseball Tournament ended on Thursday afternoon when South Carolina eliminated it, 5-3. The loss dropped Auburn's record to 31-28 while South Carolina improved to 40-16.
"I'm really proud, first of all and foremost, of how our team competed today," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "I thought they battled all three games of this tournament. Today was another battle for us. I thought (Michael) Roth threw the ball extremely well. Unfortunately, we didn't have many opportunities."
South Carolina jumped out to a five-run lead off of Cory Luckie (2-2) and Slade Smith in the first five innings, building a lead that ultimately proved too large for Auburn to chip away.
Auburn had just two base runners through the first four innings off of the South Carolina ace Roth (6-1). Jay Gonzalez led off the first with a single but was later picked off first and Creede Simpson hit a one-out single in the fourth but was thrown out trying to steal second.
South Carolina, meanwhile, scored single runs in the first and second as Joey Pankake doubled and scored on a Christian Walked sac fly in the first and Adam Matthews singled and scored on an Erik Payne double in the second. South Carolina would finish the game with five extra-base hits (four doubles, a triple) while Auburn had just two extra-base knocks.
South Carolina built a 4-0 lead in the fourth when LB Dantzler singled and scored and Grayson Greiner doubled and scored on a bases-loaded walk off of Smith.
The lead ballooned to 5-0 in the fifth when Greiner doubled and scored on a Matthews single before Auburn began chipping away.
Justin Bryant singled and scored on a Dan Glevenyak sac fly in the fifth and then Caleb Bowen reached on an error and scored on a Simpson sac fly in the sixth to make it 5-2.
Auburn would put runners in scoring position with one out in the seventh but come up empty as South Carolina closer Matt Price got a strike out and a groundout to end the frame after entering for Roth. Roth would finish the game allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings on seven hits while striking out five.
Auburn again put runners in scoring position in the eighth when Ryan Tella hit a two-out double and scored on Bryant's single, bringing the tying run to the plate in Patrick Savage. Savage would lace a ball into the left field gap but it hung up just long enough for South Carolina left fielder Tanner English to track it down. Auburn then went down in order in the ninth as Price earned his 10th save of the season.
Derek Varnadore and Bryant kept Auburn in the game as Varnadore threw two shutout innings and Bryant 2 1/3 shutout frames.
Auburn must now await the Monday NCAA Tournament Selection Show (ESPNU 11am CT) to find out if its season has been deemed worthy enough to continue.
"It's hard to put the whole season into a couple words because we've done so much, and we've been through ups and downs as a team," Bryant said. "That's what you go through. It just makes you closer, and we've definitely had our ups and downs. It's been a good ride, and I'm hoping we get a bid."