April 15, 2011
BATON ROUGE, lA. -
Continuing a trend it started a week ago, Auburn scored six times in the sixth to turn a two-run deficit into a four-run lead as Auburn rallied and then held on to win, 8-7, at No. 21 LSU on Friday night in Baton Rouge. The win was Auburn's (19-14, 6-7 SEC) fourth straight in conference play and its second Friday night win in its last three trips to Alex Box Stadium while the loss was the fourth straight for LSU (22-13, 3-10 SEC) in SEC play.
"It starts with the guy on the mound. What can you say about Zach Blatt. An outstanding effort, he got us deep into the game and made some big pitches," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "We were down 3-1 but our guys kept working and ended up finding a way to win today."
The six-run sixth also made a winter out of first-time starter Zach Blatt (2-2), who had made 43 career relief appearances before Friday night and who left after going a career-long 6 1/3 innings. When he left Auburn was up, 7-3, with men on first and second, both of whom would come around to score. When it was all said and done, Blatt would be charged for five runs (four earned) on five hits and four walks, striking out four.
"The first couple of innings I did not feel good. I couldn't adjust to the mound and I had a hard time locating my fastball and my breaking ball wasn't working the way I wanted it to work," Blatt said. "By the third inning my arm slot got a little lower and things started clicking and we got some hits there in the big six-run inning."
Ethan Wallen earned his fifth save of the season by getting the final two outs of the game. Entering with a man on third and one out, he allowed the run to score on a Mikie Mahtook (1-for-3, 2 RBI) single before getting a strike out and a line out on a sliding catch by Justin Fradejas in right to end the game.
Auburn scored five times before LSU recorded an out in the sixth, using a double off the bat of Fradejas (1-for-3, R, RBI) and back-to-back walks to Casey McElroy (1-for-4, 2B, 2 R) and Dan Gamache (0-for-4, R) to load the bases. A Tony Caldwell (1-for-4, 2 RBI) two-run double tied the game at 3-3 and knocked LSU starter Kurt McCune (5-2) from the game. Kevin Berry relieved McCune and hit Wes Gilmer (1-for-3, R, RBI) to re-load the bases before walking Kevin Patterson (0-for-4, R, RBI) to put Auburn up, 4-3. A pinch-hit two-run single by Cullen Wacker (1-for-2, 2 RBI) made it 6-3 and put runners on the corners, which Auburn took advantage of with a suicide squeeze from Bobby Andrews (1-for-4, RBI) with one out to give Auburn the four-run lead.
"We just had to find a way to get things going and get some momentum," Pawlowski said. "We got some walks and got some big hits. Guys stepped up in clutch situations. You don't have many opportunities against good teams or good pitchers but when you do you certainly have to take advantage of it."
LSU make things interesting with two runs in the seventh when Dillon Ortman walked in a pair of runs after coming in for Blatt with two on and one out to make it 7-5. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week got out of the jam by inducing a fielder's choice.
Auburn tacked on a much-needed ninth-inning insurance run when Gilmer singled in McElroy, who doubled to start the inning, to make it 8-5. The run proved very useful as LSU took advantage of a hit batter and an error by Justin Hargett at second to score once off of Ortman and once off of Wallen, with both runs being charged to Ortman.
LSU capitalized on poor execution by Auburn to take a 1-0 lead in the second. Kirk Cunningham (2-for-5, 2 R) led off with a single and went to second when Fradejas couldn't pick the ball up cleanly. A fly out to deep right-center allowed Cunningham to race to third and then a wild pitch and an error by Caldwell on the same Blatt offering allowed Cunningham to scamper home with the first run of the game. Blatt was able to limit the damage to just the one run as he fanned the final two hitters of the inning with a runner on third.
Auburn tied the game at 1-1 on Fradejas' third-inning sac fly. Justin Hargett (1-for-3, R) walked with one down in the inning and went to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run with Andrews at the plate, brining Fradejas to the plate.
A RBI single by JaCoby Jones (2-for-3, R, RBI) and a sac fly to right by Spencer Ware (0-for-3, RBI) put LSU up 3-1 after four.
The two teams return to the diamond at 6:30pm on Saturday for game two of the series.
Auburn 8, LSU 7 (Apr 15, 2011 at Baton Rouge, LA)
Auburn.............. 001 006 001 - 8 7 3 (19-14, 6-7 SEC)
LSU................. 010 200 202 - 7 7 0 (22-13, 3-10 SEC)
Win-Zach Blatt(2-2) Save-Ethan Wallen(5) Loss-Kurt McCune(5-2) T-2:58 A-10004
Box Score in PDF Format
Follow Auburn baseball on twitter at twitter.com/AUTigerBaseball.