Tigers Top Tide, 8-6, At Capital City Classic
March 24, 2010
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Southeastern Conference's top offense got the better of the second-best pitching staff in the league as Auburn claimed an 8-6 non-conference win over No. 16 Alabama in the second annual Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium on Wednesday night. Auburn reliever Michael Hurst was named the game's Most Valuable Player as he shut down the Alabama offense in the middle innings to pick up the win for Auburn, which has now won seven straight games.
"It was a typical Auburn-Alabama baseball game. Both teams played one heck of a ball game tonight," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "Michael Hurst came in in middle relief and did an outstanding job for us. Add in Austin Hubbard and when you have to step up and make big pitches, I thought these guys did a really good job for us."
Hurst (2-0) entered the game with two runners in scoring position and two runs already in for Alabama with Auburn clinging to a 5-4 lead with two down in the fourth. The side-winder induced a fly out from the first hitter he faced and then proceeded to keep Alabama off the scoreboard for the next three-plus innings as Auburn extended its lead to 7-4.
Hurst, a senior from Vestavia, threw 3 1/3 innings on the night, allowing a run on one hit and three walks, striking out two as he departed after facing one batter in the eighth, which walk and eventually scored.
"I just tried to come out and throw strikes in the zone and let my defense work behind me," Hurst said.
Austin Hubbard picked up his third save of the season, entering for Hurst in the ninth. Though he did allow his inherited runner to score as well as another unearned run thanks to a fielding error, the senior closer kept the Alabama hitters chasing in the ninth as he struck out three of the four hitters he faced to nail down Auburn's second win in two tries at the Capital City Classic.
Creede Simpson paced Auburn with three hits, including his eighth double of the year, and two RBI while Casey McElroy had two hits and three RBI and Tony Caldwell had two hits and two RBI.
"A lot of guys stepped up tonight and I was able to contribute," Simpson said. "It's a good win for us. It's always fun to play your rival and we were able to get the job done tonight."
Auburn (16-5) battered Alabama starter Jonathan Smart (1-1) for five runs on six hits and a walk in just 2 1/3 innings, hitting a double, a triple and two home runs off the southpaw.
Caldwell's fourth home run of the season gave Auburn a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, blasting a 3-1 pitch onto the railroad tracks in left.
Alabama, which fell 16-3, answered Auburn's run with a pair of runs in the top of the third, scoring on Taylor Dugas' triple and a Josh Rutledge RBI groundout to take a 2-1 lead.
After a Hunter Morris triple scored Simpson following his one out double, Brian Fletcher drew a four-pitch walk and McElroy blistered his second home run of the season, a deep liner to right that put Auburn ahead, 5-2 and ended Smart's night early.
Alabama answered again with two in the top of the fourth on Rutledge's two-out, bases loaded single to left to make it 5-4. Rutledge's hit ended Auburn starter Slade Smith's night after he had allowed four runs on five hits while still striking out six in 3 2/3.
Auburn got one run back in the bottom of the fourth on a Simpson two-out single to left, scoring Justin Bryant to go up 6-4. Bryant had reached first on a strike out-wild pitch, went to second on a Justin Fradejas groundout and then to third on another wild pitch.
Auburn added a much-needed insurance run in the seventh on Caldwell's two-out RBI single as Alabama answered with two runs in the eighth off of Hurst and Hubbard to make it a one-run game, 7-6. Kelton drew the walk off Hurst and scored on Dugas' single while pinch hitter Chris Smelley drew a walk off of Hubbard and scored with McElroy couldn't cleanly field an inning-ending ground ball.
Simpson's ninth-inning sacrifice fly scored Wes Gilmer, who had walked to start the inning, to up Auburn's advantage to 8-6.
Alabama had entered the game allowing just five home runs in its first 18 games before the SEC's top home run club put two on them to up its season total to 36.
Auburn returns home for a three-game series against No. 14 South Carolina this weekend. Game times are set for 6:30pm CT on Friday, noon on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday. Fans are reminded that Saturday's game was moved up three hours from the originally scheduled time to accommodate the live television broadcast on CSS.
Auburn 8, Alabama 6 (Mar 24, 2010 at Montgomery, AL)
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