Clean Sweep! Tide Blasts Tigers

AUBURN – Alabama baseball completed the sweep of Auburn with a 14-4 blowout victory on Sunday afternoon inside Plainsman Park. The Crimson Tide used big innings all afternoon to ensure the victory and improve to 28-24 overall, 11-16 in Southeastern Conference play.

The sweep was Alabama’s first in an SEC series this season and marked the first time the Crimson Tide have taken all three games of a series in Auburn since May 7-8, 1983. The 10-run win is the largest margin of victory over the Tigers since a 13-3 win in Auburn on May 16, 2009.

“We had our best weekend offensively,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “It certainly all came together for us, particularly on the offensive end. I’m real pleased with the offense, and really the way we played overall. I thought we had three very solid games here in Auburn.”

After two close victories in the first set of games, Alabama put up an eight-spot in the ninth to leave no doubt. The Tide also put together a three spot in the second to take the early lead, a two run-sixth to extend the lead and one run in the seventh to stave off any comeback efforts heading into the final frame.

Alabama’s offense collected 16 hits on the afternoon and closed out the weekend with 42 over three games.

Every member of the offense contributed in some way, with each batter reaching base at least once. Georgie Salem and J.C. Wilhite tied for the team lead in hits at four apiece, with Wilhite reaching safely in every appearance to finish 4-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.

Will Haynie contributed a team-leading three RBI thanks in part to his two-run home run in the sixth inning. Cody Henry led the Tide in runs scored with a career-high four on the day. The freshman also added three hits – two of which were doubles – while knocking in one run.

The win was possible thanks to another solid outing from sophomore Geoffrey Bramblett. The Crimson Tide starter earned his team-leading seventh win of the season, tossing six innings and allowing three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six. Bramblett would turn it over to the bullpen duo of Ray Castillo and Thomas Burrows. The two relievers tossed the final three innings and allowed just one run while collecting three strikeouts.

The Crimson Tide kicked off the game’s scoring by putting up a three spot in a second inning that was extended by errors. Kyle Overstreet singled to lead off the inning, and Henry walked to set up a sacrifice situation. Wilhite laid down the bunt but found an island of open grass and forced a tough play from the Tigers third baseman. An errant throw to first went into right field and allowed Overstreet to cross and Henry move to third.

Haynie would draw a four-pitch walk to load the bases and then two outs later, Salem sent what looked like an inning-ending grounder up the middle, but the shortstop bobbled the delivery to second and allowed a runner to score. Mikey White would follow with a single to left to move the runners one station ahead and give Alabama the 3-0 lead through an inning and a half of action.

Alabama would add to its lead, beginning the sixth with a Wilhite single. Haynie followed immediately with another deep home run over the foul pole in left to move the lead to 5-0. Auburn would put up three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame thanks to three hits that included a triple and a pair of singles, setting it at 5-3 through six full.

In the seventh inning, the Tide would add one run. A double from Henry and then a single from Wilhite put runners on the corners. Haynie would step in and his presence would prove key as the threat of his bat forced a wide throw by the pitcher that went to the backstop and allowed Henry to cross and set the score at 6-3.

Auburn would chip away at the lead after the stretch, using three singles to load the bases. A two-out walk would bring in one run to set the score at 6-4. In the next at-bat, Salem made a run-saving, highlight-reel catch in left-center that would preserve the Alabama lead.

“Georgie’s catch was one of the better plays I’ve ever seen, more so because of the timeliness of it and who it’s against in that situation,” Gaspard said of the unbelievable catch. “That’s one of those plays that could have turned the game in their favor if we didn’t make it.”

Neither team would score in the eighth, but the flood gates opened in the top of the ninth when Alabama put together an eight-run frame thanks to five hits and three errors. Henry led off the inning with a double, his second of the contest, and then moved to third on a sac bunt. An intentional walk to Haynie placed runners on the corners and forced a pitching change.

Riley Colburn dropped down a sacrifice bunt on the new reliever but beat the throw to first and forced a wild throw that ended up in right field. The toss allowed Colburn to move to second and put Haynie at third while one run was crossing at home. The Tigers would bring in another arm and Avant would single off that pitcher for an RBI. Avant then stole second, but the catcher sailed the throw into center to provide the opportunity for Colburn to head home.

Salem would draw a walk and then Mikey White was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Hughston, who knocked a fielder’s choice that cut down White at second but brought in a run. Auburn would make another pitching change, this time with two outs. In what looked to be the end of the inning, Overstreet grounded to the second baseman but an error left everyone safe and crossed Salem to increase the Tide lead. Henry would follow suit, sending an RBI-single up the middle and putting runners on first and second. Another single from Wilhite loaded the bases once again and then Haynie was hit by a pitch to push the run across. The inning’s scoring streak would wrap up with a Colburn single to center that added the eighth and final run of the frame.

Thomas Burrows entered in the ninth to ensure the victory, with the junior allowing a leadoff walk but then registering a 5-4-3 double play to cut down two. The final out would come by the way of the strikeout, with the Tiger hitter caught looking by strike three to complete the sweep for the Crimson Tide.

“Players were making plays today,” Gaspard said of his team. “The guys were stepping up. This game is crazy – sometimes you get confidence, get going in the right direction and you can start to make a run.”

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