Varnadore Fans 11 In 5-2 Season-Opening Win Over Missouri
Feb. 17, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. - Derek Varnadore struck out 11, including six of the first 10 hitters he faced, as Auburn opened up the 2012 baseball campaign with a 5-2 win over future conference mate Missouri at Plainsman Park on Friday afternoon. Creede Simpson, Ryan Tella and Jay Gonzalez each had two hits as Auburn won on opening day for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons under head coach John Pawlowski.
"The difference to me was that between Derek Varnadore and Zach Blatt we only gave up two free bases via walk or hit-by-pitch," Pawlowski said. "Offensively we got on base seven times via either walk or hit-by-pitch and I thought that was the difference there."
Varnadore (1-0) wasted little time showing his dominating form from last season, not allowing a base hit until the fourth. After allowing a single run in the fourth inning on a Ben Turner RBI single, he settled in to strike out the side in the fifth. He also benefitted from solid defense behind him as Blake Austin threw out a pair of Missouri runners trying to steal and Garrett Cooper turned an unassisted double play in the sixth.
"I can't ask for much better than," Varnadore said. "I was glad I was able to spot up that well."
Auburn (1-0), which had just 44 stolen bases as a team last season, turned the seven free bases (four walks, three hit batters) into three stolen bases and a three-run seventh inning that opened up Auburn's lead to four, 5-1, as Missouri walked in a pair of runs with the bases loaded in the frame.
Austin scored Auburn's first run of the season, leading off the third with a double and scoring on a Ryan Tella two-out double to put Auburn ahead, 1-0.
Simpson, playing second base after being an everyday outfielder the past two seasons, gave Auburn a 2-1 lead in the fourth as he doubled and scored on a Jarred Smith RBI single and then pushed the lead to 5-1 with a bases-loaded walk in the seventh.
"Everyone came out here Opening Day and everyone was excited," Simpson said. "Top to bottom everyone was seeing the ball well and doing their job. Every individual has to have an identity and that's what we were able to do. It's great to see it this early in the season and hopefully we can carry that on."
Zach Blatt came in for the eighth and ninth, allowing a solo home run in the eighth to Blake Brown but nothing else.
Eric Anderson (0-1) suffered the loss for Missouri (0-1), allowing two runs on seven hits and six innings while striking out four.
The two teams will play game two of the series at 3pm on Saturday.
Auburn 5, Missouri 2 (Feb 17, 2012 at Auburn, AL)
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