Tigers Take Down Cougars In Charleston

Auburn defeated host College of Charleston 7-4 Saturday and will play Western Kentucky later Saturday night in the College of Charleston Classic.

Charleston, S.C.--Derek Varnadore pitched seven strong innings to pick up his third win of the season as Casey McElroy and Brooks Beisner both chipped in with three hits and a home run in a 7-4 Auburn win over #19 College of Charleston. The win improves to 23rd ranked Tigers to 8-3 on the year while the Cougars fall to 9-2.

It was another big outing for junior college transfer Derek Varnadore. Allowing four runs (three earned) in seven innings on seven hits against one of the top offenses in the country, he once again gave Auburn a solid outing and put the Tigers in position for the win. Ethan Wallen finished things off for Varnadore, allowing just one hit in two innings to secure the victory.

At the plate McElroy and Beisner combined for six of Auburn's 14 hits with Beisner adding three RBI. Dan Gamache and Zach Alvord both had two hits with Alvord adding three runs batted in as well.

Auburn took the early lead in the first inning on a McElroy solo home run, his second in as many games in Charleston. The Cougars quickly responded though in the bottom of the first as a one-out double by Rob Kral led to the first run allowed this season by Varnadore.

A ground ball off the bat of Marty Gantt to freshman Alvord at shortstop was bobbled momentarily and the throw sailed over Wes Gilmer at first base and into the dugout. The error allowed Kral to score but that would be all as Varnadore recovered to get out of the inning with the game tied at one.

Getting off to a good start the Tigers added to their lead in the second inning as Gamache singled to start the inning and Beisner followed with a bloop single as well to put a pair of runners on for Gilmer. Getting down the sacrifice bunt, Gilmer set up Alvord and the freshman delivered with a single to center field to score both runners.

Now up 3-1 Varnadore retired the Cougars in the second and Auburn got back to work in the third. With two outs and nobody on catcher Tony Caldwell singled to left field and Gamache singled as well to bring Beisner to the plate. Getting a pitch to pull, the juco transfer laced a double to left field to score two and give Varnadore a four-run lead to work with.

Leading 5-1 in the fifth Auburn again struck with two outs and nobody on as Beisner homered for the first time this season to make it a five-run lead for the Tigers. Following a Gilmer double Alvord came through with his third RBI of the game as his single scored the senior from second for a 7-1 Auburn lead.

In the sixth the College of Charleston finally got to Varnadore as a one out triple from Marty Gantt and a RBI groundout from Matt Leeds brought across the second run of the game for the Cougars to cut Auburn's lead to 7-2.

In the eighth Varnadore would run out of steam as a pair of walks surrounded a single as he left the game with the bases loaded and nobody out. Coming on in relief, Wallen got a ground ball for the first out that scored a run. After a liner to short Jose Mesa singled to left field to score the second run of the inning but the junior recovered to get Jamie Holler to end the threat with Auburn up 7-4.

Wallen was able to finish things off in the ninth with a scoreless inning as the Tigers improve to 2-0 in the College of Charleston Classic.

"Today wasn't as good as last week, command-wise, but I was able to mainly work off fastballs again," Varnadore said. "The slider came late again, but the change-up was really good and we got a lot of guys swinging and missing on it."

Auburn will play later on Saturday as game three originally scheduled for Sunday will be played no earlier than 7 p.m. against Western Kentucky. The game was moved up a day because of the weather threat for Sunday in the area. Sophomore Slade Smith will get the start on the mound.

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