March 21, 2010
ATHENS, Ga. - Auburn accomplished something on Sunday that it hadn't done in almost seven full conference seasons as it defeated Georgia, 19-3, to complete a three-game sweep of a SEC opponent for the first time since 2003. Auburn outscored Georgia by 34 runs during the three-game series, highlighted by Hunter Morris' 14 RBI, nine of which came on Sunday in his 5-for-6, two home run performance.
Morris cranked out his 30th and 31st home runs in the sixth and seventh innings, smashing his first career grand slam in the sixth and then lining a three-run home run into the scoreboard in his next at bat. For the weekend the junior was 10-for-16 with a double and four home runs, scoring seven runs.
"I was seeing the ball pretty well and I felt good in the box. The pitchers were making some tough pitches and I was able to make some adjustments. I did a good job of laying off some off-speed stuff later in the count today and I was just trying to be productive for the team and it resulted in a lot of runs being scored and a lot of runs produced," Morris said. "To come out and have an opportunity to do something that hasn't been done since 2003, for us to get a win today is a huge way for us to start the conference season."
The beneficiary of all the offense on Sunday was Auburn starting pitcher Grant Dayton (2-1), who allowed three runs (one earned) in seven full innings of work, earning his first conference win since the opening conference series of 2009 at Tennessee. The lone earned run the left-hander allowed was a sixth-inning solo home run to Carson Schilling when Auburn (14-5, 3-0 SEC) was already comfortably ahead, 12-2.
"Today was big for me for a couple of reasons. For one I haven't been going long in games and two, I just wanted to go out there and give us a chance to win," Dayton said. "The way we have been hitting it's hard not to win, and I am just thankful that we were able to have some big innings and put up a lot of runs."
Georgia (8-12, 0-3 SEC) went up 2-0 in the third with a pair of unearned runs off of Dayton before the wheels for off for the Georgia pitching staff in the next half inning as Auburn scored seven times off of Georgia starter Jeff Walters (0-2) and reliever Blake Dieterich in the top of the fourth. Justin Hargett (2-for-5, 2 BB, 3 R, 2 RBI) and Morris both had two-RBI singles in the inning, which was fueled by a throwing error by Georgia second baseman Todd Hankins. Hankins threw away a potential double play ball with one out and runners on the corners after a sac fly by Tony Caldwell (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) brought in the first run of the inning. Auburn used four of its 15 hits and four of its 12 walks to give Dayton a five-run cushion to work with.
"Grant Dayton was the difference today. Grant went out there and gave us seven quality innings, one walk, and put the ball in play," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "Hunter came up big for us time-and-time again. He's given us some really quality at bats and it's important to have some stability in the lineup with him and Fletch (Brian Fletcher)."
Morris' slam in the top of the sixth put Auburn up by nine, 11-2, and placed the slugger into Auburn's career top 10 for home runs. Auburn wasn't done scoring in the inning as Creede Simpson (0-for-4, 2 BB, R) walked, went to third on a pair of wild pitches and scored on Caldwell's infield single.
Morris' next blast put Auburn up 15-3 in the seventh before Caldwell got into the action with his third home run of the season, a solo blast to lead off the eighth.
For the weekend, Auburn scored 43 runs, had 46 hits, 13 of which went for extra bases (five doubles and eight home runs) and drew 16 walks while the pitching staff held Georgia to nine runs on 23 hits, only six of which went for extra bases, and seven walks.
The sweep was Auburn's first three-game sweep of a conference opponent since the second conference series of the 2003 season when it swept Kentucky, 68 conference series ago. It was also Auburn's first sweep of Georgia since 2000 and its' first in Athens since the 1998 season.
Prior to the game Auburn captains Austin Hubbard, Jon Luke Jenkins and Kevin Patterson presented Georgia's Chance Veazey with a check for the `Prayers for Chance Fund' from monies collected from Auburn players and staff. Veazey is a freshman infielder who was seriously injured in a scooter accident on the Georgia campus during the fall and is currently paralyzed from the waist down.
Auburn returns to the field on Tuesday night in Birmingham when it travels to Samford for a 6pm CT game. The following day is the make-up date for the Capital City Classic vs. Alabama at Montgomery's Riverwalk Stadium. First pitch remains at 7pm for the Classic but fans are encouraged to be in the stadium by 6:30pm to watch all of the pregame festivities.
Auburn 19, Georgia 3 (Mar 21, 2010 at Athens, GA)
Auburn.............. 000 705 313 - 19 15 2 (14-5, 3-0 SEC)
Georgia............. 002 001 000 - 3 9 3 (8-12, 0-3 SEC)
Win-Grant Dayton(2-1) Loss-Jeff Walters(0-2) T-3:20 A-2183
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