April 25, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
Brian Fletcher's opposite field three-run home run put Auburn up by a run in what turned out to be a four-run sixth inning for Auburn, who defeated Alabama, 5-4, on Friday night in Tuscaloosa. The victory was just the second win for Auburn on a Friday night in Tuscaloosa since 1992 but the second in its last three tries.
Grant Dayton earned the win for Auburn to move to 6-1 on the year, allowing three runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings, striking out six, two off of his career high. The redshirt-freshman has now won his last five decisions.
"It was tough, they battled, we battled; we had to make some great plays," Dayton said. "They are all good hitters. I did get some strikeouts, but they were hitting the change-up, which had been my out-pitch."
Dayton got three strikeouts in the first inning but it was a pair of pitches that cost him a run as Josh Rutledge tripled to lead off the inning and then scored on a wild pitch, giving Auburn a 1-0 lead.
Alabama threatened to break open the game in the fourth, loading the bases on a flair single to right, an infield single and a hit batter but Alabama centerfield Alex Kubal laid down a bunt and ran into the ball, getting called out for interference to end the inning.
Auburn finally got on the board in the fifth as Ryan Jenkins' (1-for-3) two-out, RBI single knotted the game at 1-1, scoring Fletcher (2-for-3, BB, 2 R, 3 RBI), who had walked to lead off the inning and went to third when David Cunningham (3-for-4, 2B, R) smoked a ball past Alabama second baseman Ross Wilson to the outfield.
Alabama took a 3-1 lead on Alex Avila's two-run single with the bases loaded and none out in the bottom of the fifth but Dayton coaxed a popout to right, his sixth strikeout of the night and a groundout to second to end the threat before turning it over to the bullpen.
Auburn then answered with a four-run top of the sixth, highlighted by Fletcher's three-run home run, a shot over the wall in right. Hunter Morris (2-for-4, BB, R) drew a one-out walk and then Joseph Sanders (1-for-4, R) doubled, bringing Fletcher to the plate. The homer was the fifth of the season for the freshman. Cunningham and Mat Hall (1-for-4) kept the inning going with back-to-back singles, knocking Alabama starter Miers Quigley (4-4) out of the game. Justin Hargett (2-for-4, RBI) then greeted Will Stroup with a RBI single that made it 5-3 Auburn.
"We had runners in scoring position so I saw an opportunity to drive in some runs," Fletcher said. "He gave me a pitch over the plate that I could handle and it just carried out for me."
Bryan Woodall earned his 10th save of the season by throwing the final 2.0 innings, entering in the eighth with a runner on second and none down but getting out of the inning unscathed. Alabama would get the tying run to first twice in the ninth but Matt Bentley fouled out to Fletcher down the leftfield line to end the game.
"Grant pitched a great game and then our hitters came out in the sixth and put up some runs for us, and then the bullpen did a good job of holding it," Woodall said.
Morris extended his SEC-only hitting streak to eight games with a two-out single in the top of the fourth.
With the win, Auburn moves to 24-19, 8-11 SEC and is now tied with Alabama (23-21, 8-11) in the SEC standings.
The two teams will play game two at 3pm CT on Saturday. Fr. LHP Cory Luckie (4-4, 4.23) will be opposed by Jr. RHP Austin Hyatt (3-3, 4.85). The game will air on FSN as a part of the SEC Game of the Week.