Tide Pounds Auburn

Emeel Salem reached base five times, scored four runs, hit two singles, a double and a triple, and he probably built an arc and collected two of each animal during the five-hour rain delay on Sunday before Alabama's series-clinching 9-1 win over Auburn at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Box Score

"He's doing his part," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said.

And then some.

Salem has reached base in each of his last 11 plate appearances. He was 8 of 11 in the Auburn series with four walks. For the week the Crimson Tide junior was 12 of 17 with two stolen bases, two doubles, a triple and a game-winning walk-off home run Friday night.

He has reached base in the first inning in each of the Crimson Tide's last nine games, getting hits in the first inning of eight of those.

"I'm usually pretty fired up at the beginning of a game," Salem said. "I feel good at the plate right now. As long as we win I don't care what happens to me. I could be 0 for 5. Luckily, we won the series."

After a two-error blow-up giving Auburn a five-run sixth inning in Saturday evening's game, an inning that still mystified Wells 24 hours later, the Tide played error-free baseball on Sunday.

Ryan Rhoden, who had two errors and misplayed three other balls in the first two games of the series, made up for those Sunday, fielding seven balls cleanly in the game. He also had two hits, including a fifth-inning three-run double that put the Tide on top 5-0. The first three batters in the game all hit balls to right field - two fly outs and one single.

"He had a night like a lot of us have had before, but he bounced back," Wells said. "I was a little concerned about him after last night, but he's our right fielder. The ball found him early as it tends to do in those situations."

"He can hit," Wells said. "We can go back and work on the other stuff."

Bama starter Tommy Hunter (7-2) didn't give up a run in eight innings of work. He allowed just five hits and issued three walks, and he struck out three Auburn batters. David Robertson pitched the ninth inning and allowed a run on two hits before closing out the game.

It was a long day for everyone involved in Sunday's game, as rain pushed the start time back from 2:06 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. But it was a longer day for Auburn, who dropped to 22-25 overall and 9-12 in Southeastern Conference play. Alabama improved to 34-12 overall and 16-5 in league play.

The Alabama-Auburn game was the last college baseball game to finish on Sunday, wrapping up at 10:07 p.m., well after the Hawaii-Sacramento State contest.

Alabama held on to a two-game lead over Ole Miss (13-8) in the SEC Western Division with three weeks remaining in the regular season. South Carolina and Kentucky are tied atop the Eastern division at 13-8 and are two games behind the Tide in the overall conference race.

Mid-week games are done for the year, and Alabama travels to Arkansas (31-13 overall, 11-10 SEC) next weekend. Alabama hosts SEC bottom-feeder Florida in two weeks before wrapping up the season at Tennessee the following week.

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