April 28, 2006
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
Emeel Salem hit a two-out, 10th-inning walk-off home run off of Auburn reliever Johnny Thompson as the Tigers fell to the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide, 6-5, on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The Tigers (21-24, 8-11 SEC) twice battled back to tie the game up, knotting the game at 3-3 in the third and 5-5 in the sixth as the Auburn bullpen shut down the Alabama bats, surrendering just one run on five hits while striking out six in 6.2 innings of relief of AU starter Brett Butts.
"After a rough first inning for Brett, he was able to settle in and give us a few innings before giving way to Paul Burnside, who was really good," AU Head Coach Tom Slater said. "Once again Paul comes into the game with runners in scoring position, settles things down and gives us everything he had. Johnny was really good too. He made one mistake, and credit Salem for doing what hitters do with a mistake."
After Butts allowed three in the first on a Matt Downs two-run home run and Evan Bush's RBI single, the Tigers answered with three in the third as Josh Donaldson (1-for-5, HR, 2 RBI) drove in Bruce Edwards with an RBI groundout to short and Russell Dixon (2-for-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI) doubled in Tyler Johnstone (1-for-4) and Andy Bennett (2-for-4) with a shot down the line in right.
Alabama (33-12, 14-5) re-took the lead in the bottom of the third on Spencer Pennington's RBI double and padded their lead to two runs on Alex Avila's sacrifice to deep center that scored Greg Paiml only to see the Tigers score a pair of runs in the sixth.
Donaldson led off the sixth with his team-leading eighth home run of the season to bring the Tigers within a run, 5-4. Dixon just missed knotting the game at five-all in the next plate appearance as his double was mere inches from going over the wall in right. It wouldn't matter, however, as he would score on a wild play later in the inning as after striking out Justin Bristow, UA pitcher Wade LeBlanc slapped at the return throw from the catcher, sending it up the middle, allowing Dixon to scamper home from third.
Paul Burnside ran his streak to 22.0 innings of conference play without allowing an earned run as he relieved Butts in the fourth and, after allowing a pair of walks to load the bases, he stifled the Crimson Tide hitters, striking out four while allowing just two hits over 4.0 innings.
Alabama reliever David Robertson (3-3) was credited with the win as he surrendered just one hit while striking out seven in 4.0 innings of work of relief of LeBlanc, who allowed seven hits in 6.0 innings.
Thompson (1-1) took the loss for the Tigers despite allowing just two hits in 2.2 innings.
The two teams return to the diamond at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday in a game televised by CSS. Auburn will send freshman lefty Evan Crawford (4-5) to the hill while Alabama sends Bernard Robert (6-2).