There was no shortage of free passes for the Auburn Tigers on Saturday as four Georgia pitchers combined to put the Tiger hitters on base 11 times. Auburn used those free passes along with nine hits to take a 6-3 victory and move to 24-5 overall and 7-1 in conference play, which ties the Tigers with Mississippi State for the best record in the conference.
The Tigers had little trouble taking advantage of the free passes early in the game. In the top of the first inning Karl Amonite, two for four with an RBI and a run scored, singled home Tug Hulett, who was two for four with a run scored. Amonite's hit followed a two-out walk and an infield single by catcher Bobby Huddleston to give Auburn a 1-0 lead.
Following the early one-run lead, pitcher Arnold Hughey took over and gave the Tigers six very strong innings to take the win and move his record to 4-1. Hughey controlled the Bulldog batters allowing only six hits and one earned run while striking out four Bulldog batters and not allowing a single walk.
Following Hughey's strong outing was Cory Dueitt, who pitched two and two-thirds innings allowing two runs on four hits while striking out one Bulldog hitter. Then with two outs in the ninth, Coach Steve Renfroe went to bullpen ace Steven Register to get the final out. Register successfully closed out the Bulldogs and recorded his ninth save of the year.
Even with all of the free passes being given by Georgia pitching the Tigers' hitters still managed to have solid day. Sean Gamble went two for four laying down a bunt single in the seventh inning and knocking across Scott Schade for Auburn's final run of the day with an RBI double in the ninth. Also in the ninth, Auburn right fielder Clete Thomas blasted a monstrous shot over the scoreboard and kudzu hill in right field. The mammoth blast was the freshman's first college home run.
The Tigers added one run in the second inning when Javon Moran's sacrifice fly scored Schade after both Schade and Chuck Jeroloman were hit by pitches and Gamble was walked. Then in the fifth inning the Tigers added two more runs, one when a balk by Matt Woods sent Amonite across the plate and another when Schade singled Thomas home following a walk.
The Bulldogs, who dropped to 11-13 overall and 0-8 in SEC play, and have now lost nine games in a row. They put up single runs in sixth, eighth and ninth innings but never seriously challenged the Tigers.
"This was a great victory," Renfroe said. "We gutted this one out. There were two tired baseball teams out there today. Arnold Hughey was absolutely outstanding."
Hughey picked up his first career SEC victory. Freshman Brent Benefield took the loss to drop to 0-2 for Georgia after surrendering two runs on two hits and four walks in 1 2/3 innings on the mound.
On Sunday the Tigers will try to put a cap on their second road series sweep in as many weeks while the Bulldogs will try to break their losing streak and salvage one game at home. Sunday's game between the Tigers and Bulldogs begins at noon CST and will air on CSS-TV.