April 11, 2006
MOBILE, Ala. -
Clarence Nicely pitched a near-perfect five-and-a-third innings and Jeff Boutwell hit his first home run of the season and scored another run as Auburn defeated South Alabama, 3-2, at Stanky Field on Tuesday night.
"What an outstanding pitching performance by Clarence Nicely. He came out and dominated the strike zone and really got us into the game," AU Head Coach Tom Slater said. "Clarence came into a very hostile South Alabama environment and pitched his tail off. That was a big-time performance by him"
Nicely (1-0) was nearly perfect for five innings, limiting to the Jaguars to just four base runners on one hit while setting a career high with eight strikeouts. The outing, which was the longest of his career, gave him his first win of the season and the second of his career, the last coming on February 15, 2005.
Luke Greinke allowed a leadoff hit in the ninth but got the next three guys to go down in order to earn his fourth save of the season.
"Luke is capable of striking guys out and getting ground balls and that's what he did for us," Slater said.
Jeff Boutwell gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead as he hit his first home run of the season, a monster shot over the scoreboard in left with two outs in the top of the third.
After allowing two hits sandwiched around a strikeout in the top of the sixth, Nicely gave way to Paul Burnside, who struckout the first batter he faced on three pitches and then got the next man up to line out to right, thwarting a Jaguar threat.
After allowing a one-out double in the bottom of the first, Nicely sat down 11 of the next 12 hitters he faced, surrendering just a walk in the top of the fourth.
Boutwell scored the first run of the game as he reached on a fielders' choice and scored all the way from first on Andy Bennett's two-out double to the wall in right.
South Alabama (22-15) got within a run in the bottom of the seventh as Jeff Cunningham's double drove in Patrick Weaver and David Freese, who had singled and walked, respectively. Thompson then came on in relief and struckout Aaron George before getting David Doss to bounce one back to the pitcher for the final out of the inning.
Andy Bennett scored what turned out to be the game-winning run in the top of the fourth when he reached on a wild pitch after striking out and eventually scored when USA starting pitcher Eric Gonzalez (3-3) attempted to throw him out at third on Greinke's sacrifice bunt attempt, only to see the ball sail into foul ground in left.
The Tigers (16-20) return to Plainsman Park for a weekend series with eighth-ranked Mississippi State beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday night. Friday's game will be long-time Auburn public address announcer Carl Stephens' final Auburn athletic event behind the microphone and he will be honored throughout the game.