Auburn Baseball Sweeps Alabama

AUBURN – Alabama did pretty well in 16 of the 18 innings in a doubleheader at Auburn Saturday, but in both games the Tigers had big seventh innings and swept the two key games in Southeastern Conference play. Auburn won the first game 7-5 and came back in the second to win 8-7.

The doubleheader was the result of Friday's game being rained out. Alabama came into the series tied for the SEC Western Division lead, but fell to fourth. Bama is now 12-14 in conference play and 30-22 overall. Auburn improved to 28-23 overall and 13-13 in SEC competition and moved to third place in the division.

Auburn becomes the only SEC Western Division team to have a winning record against Alabama this year.

The Crimson Tide and Tigers will complete the SEC series with game three on Sunday, with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. from Plainsman Park. Starters for the series finale have not been announced for either team. Alabama will start senior lefty Jonathan Smart (4-1, 1.83) and Auburn will counter with sophomore right-hander Slade Smith (2-0, 6.42).

"Both games came down to the seventh inning," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I thought both of our starters did a nice just getting to the seventh, then we broke down in the bullpen. For the majority of the year we've done a good job from the bullpen, but today we didn't throw enough strikes."

In the nightcap, Alabama could not overcome an Auburn five-run seventh inning as the Tigers held on for the win at Plainsman Park.

Alabama got a ninth inning leadoff home run by Jared Reaves to cut the deficit to 8-7, but with runners on first and second, Auburn reliever Dillon Ortman got Brett Booth to ground into a game-ending 1-6-3 double play to record his fourth save of the season. Ortman preserved the win for Ethan Wallen (5-5), who pitched 0.2 innings in relief of starter Derek Varnadore.

Charley Sullivan (2-2) did not record an out and allowed two runs in the pivotal seventh inning to get the loss for the Crimson Tide. UA starting pitcher Adam Morgan did not factor into the decision, and left the game after six innings, allowing three runs on four hits with seven strikeouts. Morgan retired 17 of the final 20 batters he faced.

Josh Sanders recorded three of the 12 hits for the Tide in the second game of the day, notching his third multiple hit game of the season with a career-high three knocks. Jared Reaves was 2-for-4 with his 17th double and fourth home run of the season, and increased his team-leading RBI total to 42 with three runs batted in.

Taylor Dugas was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run score and Brock Bennett was 2-for-4 notching his ninth straight game with at least two hits. Bennett now has 24 multiple hit games this season to lead the club.

Alabama fell behind early as Auburn scored three times in the first inning off Morgan. The Tigers used three hits, including a two RBI double off the bat of Wes Gilmore to take a 3-0 lead after one. Gilmore was 2-for-3 with three RBI in the game. After the double to Gilmore, Morgan retired 13 straight hitters before allowing a single with two outs in the fifth.

The Tide got on the board with a pair of runs in the fifth inning. With runners on the corners, a one-out single by Dugas scored Hunter Gregory, who walked to start the rally. Bennett followed with a bunt single up the first base line, and after he beat Varnadore to first, Sanders scored from second on the play.

The Tide opened the seventh inning with back-to-back singles by Sanders and Dugas, and after a SEC leading 17th sacrifice bunt of the season by Bennett, Jared Reaves belted his 17th double of the season to drive in two, giving Alabama a 4-3 lead.

Following the Reaves double, the day for Auburn starter Varnadore came to a close with the junior throwing 6.1 innings, allowing four earned runs on 10 hits with three walks and no strikeouts.

"I thought our team competed and battled all day long," Gaspard added. "We got down a couple times and fought to get back in it. After a tough day, you have to find a way to get one tomorrow. Everyone is fighting for the same thing right now."

Auburn scored five times in the bottom of the seventh inning to regain the lead for good. With runners on the corners, Tony Caldwell singled to right field off Josh Rosecrans to push across the go-ahead run, making the score 5-4. A passed ball allowed the third run to score, a double plated the fourth run of the inning, and an RBI single made the score 8-4.

Alabama answered with two unearned runs in the eighth, scoring twice without recording a hit in the inning. The ninth-inning home run by Reaves cut the deficit to 8-7, but the Tide couldn't get the big hit it needed to complete the comeback.

Auburn got four runs in the seventh and two in the eighth to win the first game.

With the Crimson Tide leading 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Auburn scored four times in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-2 lead. After Alabama answered with three runs in the top of the eighth, the Tigers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to take the series opener and move into a second place tie in the SEC West with Alabama.

Auburn reliever Dillon Ortman got the final six outs for the Tigers to earn the win and improve to 2-1 on the year. Adam Windsor took the loss for Alabama to fall to 3-2 on the season. Alabama starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease threw 6.0 innings, allowing four earned on eight hits with three earned runs, four strikeouts and a pair of walks, but did not factor into the decision.

Brett Booth paced the Tide offense with his first three-hit game of his career, as Alabama finished the game with 10 hits against two Tiger pitchers. Booth scored two runs and had one RBI. Brock Bennett notched his team-leading 23rd multiple hit game of the season as he was 2-for-5 with a run scored.

With two outs in the bottom of the second, Alabama scored two runs on three straight hits to take a 2-0 lead. The seventh double of the season by Booth started the rally and was followed by an RBI single by Patrick McGavin, his third run batted in of the year. Hunter Gregory followed with the Tide's second double of the inning, plating McGavin from second.

Auburn looked to answer in the bottom of the second, but after a pair of two out singles put runners on the corners, Kilcrease struck out Justin Fradejas on three pitches to end the inning. The Tigers got a run back in the third with a one-out solo home run on a 3-0 pitch to center field by Casey McElroy, making the score 2-1 in favor of the Tide.

The Tigers scored four times before the Tide recorded an out, and eventually batted around, in the seventh inning. Adam Windsor, the fourth pitcher of the inning for Alabama, came in with the base loaded and retired the three hitters he faced and keep the Tigers' lead at 5-2.

Alabama answered with three runs in the top of the eighth, with the tying run coming on a pinch-hit double by Brett Whitaker, scoring Booth from first. Bennett singled and Jared Reaves doubled to open the inning, and after a pitching change for Auburn, Ortman struck out Austen Smith for the first out of the inning. An infield ground out by Andrew Miller plated Bennett and Booth extended the inning when he out-hustled Ortman to first base on a ground ball to first base for an RBI single.

Jon Kenton returned to the field for the first time since March 26, after he broke his foot after being hit by a pitch in game two of the series against Kentucky. Kelton entered the game in the bottom of the eighth inning as a defensive replacement at first base.

Auburn loaded the bases again in the eighth inning before scoring two runs to take a 7-5 lead. The runs came across on a ground ball that plated Fradejas for the eventual winning run. A throwing error by Reaves, trying to throw out Fradejas at home, allowed Brooks Beisner to score the second run.

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