Tide Wins AU Series, But Misses Sweep

AUBURN – Alabama opened Saturday’s doubleheader against Auburn in dominating fashion, winning 13-3 to clinch the series victory, but the Tide couldn’t complete the sweep as the Tigers edged out the Tide, 13-12, in an extra-inning slugfest that lasted nearly four hours.

Alabama (35-10, 12-6 SEC) took the opener to clinch the weekend series, winning its fifth SEC series of the season. Auburn (41-8, 13-5 SEC) bounced back to avoid the sweep, erasing three Alabama leads en route to an extra-inning victory, 13-12.

Between the two games, Haylie McCleney and Marisa Runyon each had five hits, with Runyon driving in eight of the team’s 25 runs and slugging three of their five home runs.

Alexis Osorio (14-6) threw a complete game victory in the opener but was tagged for the loss in game three, allowing the game-tying double and walking the eventual go-ahead runner.

GAME ONE: ALABAMA 13, AUBURN 3

Alabama trailed Auburn 3-2 after the second inning but the Tide eventually regained the lead in the fifth inning and continued to distance itself from the Tigers, piling on six runs in the seventh inning to secure the double-digit lead. Runyon hit a pair of home runs, driving in five, and becomes the first player at Alabama to hit two home runs in multiple games during a season since Alex Blewitt in 2010. Danae Hays went 3-4 with four RBI and three runs batting cleanup while Chaunsey Bell had a pair of RBI on a seventh-inning double batting fifth.

The Tide got another strong start from Alexis Osorio (14-5) in the circle, as she threw her second complete game victory of the weekend, allowing just three runs, one earned, on five hits.

Auburn ended the Tide’s streak of 42 consecutive innings without an earned run allowed in the second inning as they eventually took a 3-2 lead but they could not capitalize on their limited opportunities in the remainder of the game, leaving a total of 11 runners on base. Starter Lexi Davis (17-2) was tagged for 11 runs in the loss, throwing 129 pitches over 5 2/3 innings.

Alabama threatened early, as a single, fielder’s choice and a walk would load the bases with nobody out in the top of the first. Hays laced the fifth pitch of her at-bat down the left field line, scoring two on the double to make it 2-0, though McCleney was tagged out at home trying to score on the play to put one out on the board. Auburn looked to answer in the bottom half of the inning, putting two on base with one out, but a strikeout and a popup kept them stranded as the Tide maintained its two-run lead.

In the bottom of the second, Auburn quickly loaded the bases as a leadoff single, walk and a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt brought the potential tying run into scoring position. A fly ball to left field would allow the runner at third to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly, making it 2-1, and after a batter was hit by a pitch to load the bases, another fly ball to left field would tie the game at 2-2 on a sacrifice fly. Kasey Cooper would then drop a single in between three defenders in shallow center field to score one and give Auburn its first lead of the weekend, 3-2.d

Runyon tied the game at 3-3 with a leadoff solo homer in the top of the fourth and Hays would drive in McCleney with a hard-hit RBI single in the next inning, giving Alabama a 4-3 lead with one away in the top of the fifth. That ended Davis’ outing in the circle for the Tigers as Marcy Harper entered in relief. Back-to-back hit batters would load the bases and a walk to Jadyn Spencer would drive in another run as Alabama extended its lead to 5-3. The Tigers quickly made another change in the circle as Rachael Walters entered in relief. Leona Lafaele would battle through a long at-bat and eventually draw a bases-loaded walk as that stretched the lead further to 6-3. A pair of fly balls eventually ended the inning but Alabama was now playing with a three-run lead.

Alabama added one more run in the sixth on an RBI single by Runyon to make it 7-3 and put plenty of distance between the teams in the seventh, plating six runs including a three-run homer by Runyon to make it 13-3. Auburn couldn’t chip away at the lead in the bottom half of the inning, as they were sat down in order with Alabama taking home the ten-run victory.

GAME TWO: AUBURN 13, ALABAMA 12 (8 INNINGS)

Both offenses were on display in a marathon slugfest to close the weekend series, but ultimately it was Auburn that came out on top, 13-12, in extra innings.

Alabama saw its lead erased on three different occasions, as each team battled back-and-forth with a combined 25 runs and 28 hits. McCleney was the Tide’s leader on offense, going 3-4 with two RBI and two runs scored while Runyon, Jadyn Spencer and Leona Lafaele each hit home runs, combining to drive in seven of Alabama’s 12 runs. The Tide used all three of its pitchers but Alexis Osorio (14-6) took the loss, walking the eventual go-ahead run as she did not record an out in the final inning.

Auburn rallied from a 10-5 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the sixth and one in the bottom of the seventh to force extras, and then overcame a 12-10 Alabama lead with three runs in the bottom of the eight to win. Emily Carosone went 4-5 out of the two hole with four RBI while Jenna Abbott drove in three on a three-run homer, the first long ball for Auburn all weekend. The Tigers also used three different pitchers as Lexi Davis (18-2) ended as the pitcher of record in extra innings for the win.

Alabama jumped on Auburn quickly as, with two in scoring position and nobody out in the top of the first, McCleney pulled a two-run single through the right side, advancing to second on the throw and moving to third on an error as the Tide now led 2-0. Danae Hays drew a walk to put runners at the corners and a wild pitch allowed McCleney to score from third, making it 3-0, as Hays advanced all the way to third base on an error. After a popup went for out number one, Runyon unloaded a two-run homer over the fence in right field to give Alabama a 5-0 lead. A four-pitch walk to Jadyn Spencer spelled an early end to Walters’ start as Marcy Harper entered with just one out in the opening inning. After a walk, a strikeout and a lineout got the Tigers out of the inning but not before the Tide took an early five-run lead.

Auburn plated its first run of the game in the bottom of the first as Branndi Melero knocked an RBI single up the middle with two outs and was later driven in by a Morgan Estell RBI double to make the score 5-2. A walk would put two on base but a groundout back to Jury in the circle would end the inning. The Tigers looked to start another two-out rally in the second, moving two into scoring position but Jury got out of the jam with a swinging strikeout to maintain the three-run lead.

The Tigers started the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back walks and, after a popup, a passed ball moved the pair into scoring position with one away. A grounder back to the pitcher looked to have at least one runner tagged out but some defensive confusion allowed both runners to return safely as the bases were now loaded with one away. Emily Corosone took the 3-0 pitch through the left side, scoring two on a hard-hit single to draw the Tigers within one, 5-4. With two in scoring position, a ball deflected off Jury in the circle and the runner at third was caught in a rundown as she was tagged out for out number two. Later with two in scoring position, a wild pitch on ball four allowed the runner at third to come home and tie the game at 5-5, which ended Jury’s outing with Littlejohn entering in relief. She forced a popup to end the inning but the score was now tied at five apiece.

With a runner at second and two away in the bottom of the fifth, a fielding error extended the inning for the Tigers and a walk would load the bases. Chandler Dare stranded the bases loaded with a fantastic diving catch in left field to end the inning and keep the game tied.

In the top of the sixth with two on and one away, Chaunsey Bell pulled a hard hit single into left field to score McCleney from second and break the tie as Alabama now led, 6-5. After a long conversation in the circle, Runyon hit the first pitch she saw up the middle to drive in Rachel Bobo, pinch running at second, to make it a 7-5 game. After Auburn reentered Walters in the circle, Jadyn Spencer unloaded a huge three-run homer into left center to swell the lead to 10-5. A pair of lineouts would eventually end the half-inning but Alabama was now on top by five with Auburn down to its final six outs.

The Tigers opened up the bottom of the sixth with three straight singles, which allowed one run to score and make it 10-6. Later with two on and one out, Jenna Abbott sent a three-run homer into center field to draw Auburn within one, down 10-9. Alabama couldn’t extend its lead in the top of the seventh as the Tide took a one-run lead in the final half-inning of regulation.

In the bottom of the seventh, a one-out walk and single would put the potential tying run in scoring position as Jury reentered to pitch for Alabama. A grounder went for out number two but allowed the tying run to cross the plate as it was now knotted up at 10-10 with the potential go-ahead run at third base. Auburn would eventually load the bases but the runner at third was caught trying to steal home for the final out of the inning as the teams went to extra innings tied at 10-10.

With one on and one away in the top of the eighth, Davis reentered the game to pitch for Auburn and, after a strikeout, Lafaele would crush the first pitch she saw, blasting a two-run homer to center field as the Tide pulled ahead 12-10. In the bottom of the eighth, Alexis Osorio entered with one on and one out in the save situation but Carlee Wallace battled to knock a double into the right field gap, putting two in scoring position with one away. A walk would load the bases and Emily Corosone would poke a two-run single down the first base line to tie the game back up at 12-12 as Jury reentered the game. A ground ball in the next at-bat got a force out at second but an errant throw went out of play, allowing the runner at third to cross and give Auburn the 13-12 win in extra innings.

Next up, Alabama returns home to face Troy on Tuesday, April 21 at 6 p.m. before welcoming the Tennessee Volunteers for a three-game series starting on Thursday, April 23 at 7 p.m. CT. Game one of the series will be aired on ESPN with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza on the call.

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