Sunday Continues Bad For Alabama

Auburn hit three solo home runs and junior left-hander Grant Dayton threw six shutout innings as the Tigers avoided the SEC series sweep with a 7-1 win over No. 23 Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Sunday afternoon.

Alabama had won both Friday and Saturday games, but failed for the third Southeastern Conference series this year to win on Sunday.

Alabama (19-8, 4-5 SEC) has won two of its three SEC series this year. The Crimson Tide is 15-2 at home this season, with both losses coming in Sunday SEC games (to Vanderbilt and Auburn).

Justin Bryant, Crede Simpson and Kevin Patterson each homered for the Tigers, who built a 6-0 lead through six innings.

Bryant's fourth home run of the season gave Auburn a 1-0 lead in the second inning and Simpson's third home run of the year made it 2-0 in the third inning.

The Tigers added a run in the fourth on Bryant's sacrifice fly to take a 3-0 lead and then put two runs on the board in the fifth for a 5-0 lead. Hunter Morris lined a two-out double off the right field wall to score Justin Hargett and Brian Fletcher scored on a throwing error by junior shortstop Josh Rutledge to push the lead to 5-0.

Alabama starter Taylor Wolfe (2-1) took the loss after he allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He added six strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

"Grant Dayton did a great job for them today," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He really just kind of shackled our offense all day long. Honestly our young guys (UA pitchers Taylor Wolfe and Tucker Hawley) I thought, did a pretty nice job. The one problem was we couldn't keep them in the ballpark. Auburn has a really powerful lineup, I think their first two hits left the yard, and then they were able to continue to build on that. We really never got anything going offensively.

Patterson made it 6-0 in the sixth with his seventh home run of the season and third of the series.

Meanwhile, Dayton made it tough on Alabama hitters in the series finale as he took a shutout into the seventh inning.

"It was a good win for Auburn, for them to salvage and avoid the sweep," Gaspard added. "Many times that's as important as sweeping when you're moving on. On our end offensively a lot of adjustments still need to be made. We've got to do a better job of going the other way. I thought (Payton) did a really good job, throwing fastballs on the outer half of the plate. We never really made the adjustment to go the other way and go back up the middle."

The Tide finally touched Dayton for run in the seventh inning to close the gap to 6-1. Senior third baseman Jake Smith reached on a leadoff single and scored on sophomore Jon Kelton's double into the field corner.

Auburn tacked on another run in the eighth when Casey McElroy singled, stole second base and scored on Patterson's RBI single to make it 7-1.

Dayton threw one pitch in the eighth inning and was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Tony Maners after he hit sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas to open the inning. Auburn coach John Pawlowski was also ejected from the game. Dayton will serve an NCAA-mandated four-game suspension, while Pawlowski will have to sit out Tuesday's game with Georgia State.

Dugas was 3-for-3 and reached base four times on Sunday.

Gaspard sat out Sunday's game after being ejected from Saturday's game after David Head hit Patterson with a pitch in the sixth inning. Head is currently serving a four-game suspension.

Alabama will play two midweek games this coming week, hosting UAB on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. (CDT) and playing at Jacksonville State on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (CDT). The Crimson Tide plays a three-game SEC series at Kentucky next weekend.


*Alabama used four pitchers in the game against Auburn and recorded 10 strikeouts and no walks. The Auburn game marked the third time this season the Crimson Tide pitching staff did not issue a walk. Alabama also did not walk a batter against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27 and at College of Charleston on March 6. Auburn used two pitchers and also did not walk any batters.

*Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas went 3-for-3 and reached base all four times on Sunday. Dugas is second on the Alabama team with a .598 on-base percentage this season. He has 43 hits, 28 walks and two hit batters.

*Freshman left-hander Matt Taylor made his second relief appearance of the season on Sunday and retired all four batters he faced on eight pitches. He struck out Justin Hargett to end the eighth inning and worked a three-up three-down ninth inning.

*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 0-for-4 on Sunday and had his 21-game hitting streak snapped.

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