March 11, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. -
Brett Butts held Birmingham Southern to a run in five full innings of work and Andy Bennett hit a two-run home run to cap off Auburn's scoring as the Tigers defeated the Panthers, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
"Anytime a pitcher can go out there and give you five innings without his best stuff, you have to feel great about it," AU Head Coach Tom Slater said. "He was able to keep their hitters off balance and got a lot of front-foot swings, and that was the key to the night."
Butts was just what the Auburn pitching staff needed, allowing just the one run while scattering six hits to move to 2-3 on the year.
With the Tigers ahead 2-1 after four-and-a-half innings, Andy Bennett (1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) took BSC pitcher David Horne's first pitch and deposited it over the wall in right center, scoring Josh Donaldson (0-for-4, R), who had reached on a fielder's choice a batter earlier. The homer was Bennett's team-leading fourth of the season.
Luke Greinke earned his third save of the season as he pitched two innings, allowing an unearned run on three hits in relief.
Junior Chris Dennis also returned to the hill for the Tigers after missing his last two starts due to tendonitis. In 2.0 innings of work, he did not allow a hit or a walk while striking out three.
"What I was most proud of with Chris was the strikes. He commanded the zone and really drove the ball down," Slater said.
Horne (1-2) took the loss for the Panthers after allowing all four Tiger runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings.
Auburn got on the board first with two runs in the bottom of the second. Jeff Boutwell (2-for-4, 2B, R) and Derek Sain (1-for-3, R) each singled to right to lead off the inning. Jonathan Rasberry (0-for-1, 2 SAC) then moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled by Horne. Justin Bristow (1-for-4) grounded into a double play to score Boutwell before Ben Jones (2-for-4, 2B, RBI) doubled in Sain.
The win moved the Tigers back to .500 for the year at 9-9, and also snapped a four-game slide, while Birmingham Southern fell to 4-8.
Tyler Johnstone (1-for-4) extended his streak to 28 games reaching base safely with his lead-off single in the first.
The two teams will play the rubber game of the three-game series at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday. It will be a battle of lefties as Evan Crawford (1-2) gets the start for the Tigers and Blake Martin (1-1) is expected to throw for BSC.