March 14, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. -
Right-hander Andy Masten threw 4.2 scoreless innings in relief for the Tigers, surrendering five hits and striking out six in his longest outing of the season as Auburn defeated Appalachian State, 7-2, at Plainsman Park Tuesday night.
"I was really proud of Andy," Auburn Head Coach Tom Slater said. "Sometimes when adversity occurs, guys get their opportunity and when you get your opportunity you need to perform. Andy certainly did that for us."
In his fifth appearance of the season and first since March 3, Masten (2-1) came in early relief of starting pitcher Luke Greinke who, making his first career start, left the game after just 10 pitches with a strained muscle, which was not considered to be serious and was done just as a precautionary measure. Greinke gave up a hit and recorded a strikeout before leaving in the first inning with runners on second and third. He was tagged with two unearned runs.
The Tigers were led at the plate by right fielder Russell Dixon who went 3-for-4 with three RBI. Infielders Tyler Johnstone and Andy Bennett each collected two hits and two RBI for the Tigers. Bruce Edwards (2-for-3, 2 R) also had a pair of hits.
The Mountaineers got on the board early with an RBI single by catcher Kevin Butler in the top of the first. Two batters later, centerfielder Chris Baker followed up with an RBI double off the left field wall. The Tigers answered in the bottom of the inning with a RBI double by Bennett, driving in catcher Josh Donaldson to cut the Mountaineers' lead in half.
Auburn took the lead in the bottom of the second. After back-to-back walks by Mike Bianucci and Ben Jones, Johnstone knocked a bloop single into right field, scoring both Bianucci and Jones. With that hit, Johnstone extended his streak of reaching base safely to 30 games.
"When the blooper from Johnstone dropped in, it was like a sense of relief in the dugout," Slater said. "I was proud of our ballclub. They continued to battle and played offense pretty well tonight"
The Tigers' pitching staff did not allow a run after the first inning. Auburn relievers Masten, Andrew Hall, Peter Wiggins and Bryan Woodall shut out the Mountaineers (9-6) in the last eight innings and did not allow a hit after the fifth inning.
Auburn extended its lead to four runs in the sixth inning. Following a walk by Justin Bristow, a single by Edwards and a bunt single by Johnstone, Dixon dropped a two-run single into right field, scoring Bristow and Edwards. A sacrifice fly by Bennett brought in Johnstone to give Auburn a 6-2 lead. The Tigers added their final run on an RBI single by Dixon in the eighth inning.
With the victory, the Tigers move back up to .500 (10-10) on the season and halt Appalachian State's four-game win streak at four games. Auburn opens SEC play when it hosts ninth-ranked South Carolina this weekend for a three-game series. Tickets are still available for all three games.