Tigers can’t capitalize on Jacobs’ career night

Jon Luke Jacobs hurled one of the finest games of his collegiate career but a ninth-inning RBI single off the bat of Scott Wingo sent Auburn to a 2-1 loss

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Jon Luke Jacobs did all he could.

Auburn’s starting pitcher held No. 2 South Carolina in check for eight innings — a career long — giving up just five hits and striking out a career-high nine batters.

But Jacobs didn’t come out in the ninth with the score tied at 1, handing the ball over to Dillon Ortman.

And the Gamecocks capitalized, as Scott Wingo drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the final inning to take a 2-1 victory in the series opener at Carolina Stadium.

“Jon Luke did a great job for us tonight,” Auburn head coach Jon Pawlowski said. “Early in the ballgame, he found his way out of some trouble and he gave us everything he could. He was outstanding.

“We didn’t have too many opportunities and we couldn’t come up with one to scratch another run across.”

Jacobs hadn’t pitched more than 5 1/3 innings in a game all season. But Friday he matched South Carolina ace Michael Roth, who struck out six and gave up seven hits over eight innings of work.

“This is a tough one. Anytime you lose a 2-1 ballgame on Friday night in an environment like this it’s going to be tough,” Jacobs said. “It was rocky in the beginning but I was able to settle in and pitch my game. I got stronger as the game went on and I felt good about it.”

In the ninth, Ortman hit USC’s Robert Beary with his first pitch. Beary then moved over to second on Peter Mooney’s single to right, putting runners on the corners for Wingo.

Jacobs was tested early and often as South Carolina (33-8, 15-4 SEC) left the bases loaded in both the first and second innings, collecting four hits and three walks in the first two frames but scratching out just one run.

The teams traded single runs in the second as Auburn’s Justin Fradejas drove in Creede Simpson with a two-out single, while Beary doubled in Evan Marzilli in the Gamecock’s half.

After getting out of the second, Jacobs retired 18 of the next 21 hitters, allowing a fourth-inning leadoff single, a fifth-inning one-out walk and a two-out walk in the seventh.

After Auburn (23-19, 9-10) left the bases loaded in first and scored in the second, it could not get a runner into scoring position off of Roth until there were two outs in the seventh. Roth closed the door on the seventh with a strikeout and then worked around a runner in scoring position with one out in the eighth before giving way to John Taylor.

Taylor worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the win and move to 4-1 on the season.

Auburn will try to even the series on at 6 p.m. today, when it sends junior right-hander Derek Varnadore (4-1, 3.67) to the mound against sophomore righty Colby Holmes (3-1, 4.12).

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