March 21, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. -
Freshman Mike Bianucci hit his fifth homer of the year, highlighting a five-run sixth inning, as the Tigers defeated Samford, 6-4, on Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.
Auburn took the game's first lead as Tyler Johnstone walked to lead off the game, extending his streak to 34 games of reaching base safely. A RBI single by Russell Dixon brought Johnstone home to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs took advantage of a pair of Tiger errors, combined with two singles of their own, to take a 3-1 lead in the top of the second. Samford extended its lead to three in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Parker Gargis.
Auburn then responded in the bottom of the sixth. Josh Donaldson led off the inning with a double to left center. Two batters later, Jeff Boutwell laced an RBI single, followed by a two-run blast over the left field wall by Bianucci to tie the game at four. The Tigers have now had at least one home run in each of their last four games.
"That was a big homerun," AU Head Coach Tom Slater said. "Mike's an explosive hitter. If you look at most of his hits, they've been for extra bases. When pitchers make mistakes, he generally makes them pay for it."
The inning continued as Justin Bristow reached on a throwing error and center fielder Bruce Edwards walked. Bristow eventually scored on a wild pitch, and a two-out, RBI single by Johnstone brought home Edwards, giving the Tigers a 6-4 lead.
Starting pitcher Clarence Nicely, making his second start of the season, turned in the longest outing of his career. The sophomore surrendered four runs on four hits, two of which were earned, in 5.0 innings of work.
"Clarence threw the ball very, very well," Slater said. "He commanded the strike zone and threw all his pitches well tonight which was important for us. For him to come in and do what he did, that was big for us."
Andy Masten came in relief for Nicely, earning his third win of the season after giving up two hits in 1.0 inning of work. Peter Wiggins threw two scoreless innings for the Tigers before giving way to Johnny Thompson, who pitched the ninth inning and earned his first save of the season.
Seven players registered hits for the Tigers. Donaldson went 1-for 3 with a double and Bianucci was 1-for 4 with a homer and 2 RBI on the night. Johnstone, Dixon, Bennett, Boutwell and Bristow all had singles for the Tigers.
With the victory, Auburn improved to 12-12 the season and 49-10 all time against Samford. The Tigers head to Vanderbilt this weekend for their first SEC road series of the season. Game one of the series is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m.