Auburn Tops No. 8 LSU, 4-3
March 23, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. - Ryan Tella's only hit of the night was a big one as the sophomore center fielder smacked a RBI single through the right side of the infield to score Zach Alvord from third as Auburn ran its winning streak to four with a 4-3 win over No. 8 LSU on Friday night at Plainsman Park. The win upped Auburn's record to 14-8, 3-1 SEC, tying it for first place in the SEC West with Arkansas.
"What a ballgame," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "Both teams had some opportunities. Derek Varnadore got two big ground ball double plays to get out of some innings and we had some really big two-out hits. At the end of the day these guys found a way to win a close ballgame."
"We needed two out hits. We left 12 runners on base. I was trying to put something in play, a bloop or a line drive somewhere," Tella said of his game-winning hit.
The win was sealed by a heads-up play by Garrett Cooper in the top of the ninth. With two outs and pinch runner Arby Fields at second, Auburn closer Justin Bryant induced a Grant Dozar ground ball to Creede Simpson in the hole between first and second. Simpson threw the ball low to first, which Cooper couldn't field cleanly, allowing Dozar to reach on the errant throw. At the same time Fields rounded third and headed home, but Cooper's throw home was in time for Blake Austin to tag out Fields for the final out of the game.
"What great wherewithal by Garrett Cooper at first base to pick the ball up and turn and throw a strike to home. That ball is wet, it's damp. He made a great play," Pawlowski said.
Though he didn't factor into the decision, Auburn starter Derek Varnadore had a solid outing on the mound, allowing three runs, only one of which was earned, in 7 1/3 innings. The senior lefty scattered six hits and a walk while striking out five, leaving with the game tied at 3-3 in the eighth. His inning-ending double play ground balls came in the second and the fourth with LSU stranding a runner at third both times.
Auburn took a 2-0 lead in the fourth as Alvord, who finished with two hits to go along with the game-winning run, hit a bases-loaded single just past a diving Tyler Hanover at third that scored two.
"All you try to do against a guy like (LSU starter Kevin Gausman) is put the barrel on the ball and I was fortunate enough to do it tonight," Alvord said. "LSU is a great team. There is no time to relax when you a playing a team like that. You have to find a way to get runs."
LSU answered in the sixth with a pair of unearned runs, capitalizing on a Dan Glevenyak throwing error. A Mason Katz sac fly scored JaCoby Jones, who had reached on the error, for the first run and then a Raph Rhymes single back up the middle scored Chris Sciambra to tie the game at 2-2.
Auburn reclaimed the lead in the seventh when Bryant singled in Simpson only to see LSU tie it on a Jones solo home run in the eighth, the last batter Varnadore faced.
Slade Smith (1-3) earned the win out of the bullpen with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief while Bryant got the final out for his third save of the season.
Kurt McCune (1-3) took the loss.
Auburn will try to win the series at 3pm on Saturday. Will Kendall gets the start on the mound for Auburn while LSU will start Ryan Eades.
Auburn 4, LSU 3 (Mar 23, 2012 at Auburn, AL)
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