**From staff reports/Photo by Allen Sharpe**
Freshman Carlos Cortes picked the perfect time to
hit his first career home run.
And it was a big one.
Cortes hit a sixth-inning grand slam to back a dominant pitching performance by Clarke Schmidt as South Carolina beat Auburn 7-0 Saturday to even their series at one game each.
Schmidt pitched eight scoreless innings for his first win of the season for South Carolina, which improved to 19-7 and 6-2 in the SEC. Schmidt allowed just five hits and three walks and struck out 10.
“Clarke was the story from a defensive standpoint with the way that he pitched," head coach Chad Holbrook said. "I thought maybe from the third inning to about the seventh inning is about the best I’ve ever seen him throw. It was very impressive."
The Gamecocks scored twice in the fifth inning, capped by an RBI triple by Cortes to drive in Jacob Olson, who singled to start the inning. LT Tolbert drove in Cortes with a single to center.
Carolina exploded for four runs in the sixth. Jonah Bride singled, followed by walks to Olson and Matt Williams to load the bases. That set up Cortes, who drove a 1-0 pitch over the right-field wall. Olson doubled and scored in the ninth for the final margin.
Cortes' five RBI tied Chris Cullen for the most this season for a Gamecock player.
"Carlos started swinging the bat the way we knew he was capable of," Holbrook said.
The Gamecocks and Auburn play again Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus.