Auburn Pitchers Shut Down Tide In 2-1 Victory

Auburn pitchers allowed just four hits as the Tigers defeated rival Alabama at Riverwalk Stadium.

Montgomery, Ala.--Four Auburn pitchers combined to allow just four hits and MVP Dan Gamache had two of the Tigers' seven hits, including his second home run of the season, as Coach John Pawlowski's team defeated rival Alabama 2-1 Tuesday night in front of a Max Capital City Classic record crowd of 7,492 at Riverwalk Stadium.

Scoring two runs in the second inning to take a 2-1 lead, Auburn pitchers Will Irvin, Bradley Hendrix, Andrew Morris and Zach Blatt shut the door on Alabama as they allowed just two hits in the final eight innings in the victory.

Hendrix got his first win of the year, giving up just one hit and striking out three in three innings. Blatt earned his first save of the year with two perfect innings to close out the win.

"I thought that was the difference tonight," Pawlowski said. "Both teams played an outstanding game. Runs were tough to come by from both sides. I thought every guy that went out there was tough. I was very pleased with what our guys did. Anytime you can win a one-run ball game you're doing something right. These guys made a lot of quality pitches today to help us win."

At the plate Auburn (12-5) had just seven hits with senior Wes Gilmer adding a pair of singles to the big night for Gamache. Going 2-4 on the night with a RBI Gamache has now had nine hits and 10 RBI in his last four games. He said the key for him has been patience.

"I have been watching what I swing at lately more than I did in the beginning of the season," Gamache said. "At the beginning of the season I was chasing a lot of pitches and hitting balls out of the zone and getting myself out. Lately I have been waiting for my pitch.

"Tonight I guessed he was going to throw an inside fastball," he said of his early home run. "That's what he did the first three batters of the game. I guessed right and it worked out for me."

Alabama (11-6) got the scoring started in the first inning as catcher Brock Bennett reached on an infield single with one out and later scored on a single by left fielder Austen Smith for the 1-0 Crimson Tide lead. The Tigers would answer in the top of the second though and tied the game with one swing of the bat.

Leading things off, Gamache got a pitch to drive and launched it over the right field wall for his second homer of the year. It was his eighth hit and 10th RBI in the last four games and brought Auburn back even. The Tigers weren't done though as Gilmer singled, stole second with two outs, and scored on a Brooks Beisner double for the 2-1 Auburn lead.

Dan Gamache blasts his second homer of the year against Alabama.

Following a scoreless second inning Irvin gave way to Hendrix and things started off rocky for the senior as he walked leadoff man Taylor Dugas and Bennett's second hit of the game put runners on first and second with nobody out. After a sacrifice bunt moved both into scoring position Hendrix recovered to get out of the inning with a pair of ground ball outs.

As has been the case for much of the year Auburn's bats cooled off following the outburst as the Tigers failed to score again through the fifth inning with six strikeouts against Alabama starter Taylor Wolfe. He finished with eight K's in six innings of work.

Auburn had a bad break in the bottom of the fifth with Hendrix still on the mound. With one out he again walked Dugas to put the speedster on base and with a 3-1 count against the next hitter Bennett, Alabama decided to test the arm of freshman catcher Blake Austin.

It proved to be a mistake as he gunned down Dugas at second but in the process of applying the tag shortstop Casey McElroy got injured and had to leave the game. Freshman Zach Alvord came in as the replacement as the Tigers got out of the inning with no more harm done still leading by a run.

Pawlowski said the junior shortstop caught a spike just off his chin and will likely need stitches. He said his availability for this weekend's series against Arkansas will be determined in the coming days.

Sean Ray and the Auburn seniors hold up the trophy for winning the CCC

The Tigers missed a great opportunity to add to their lead in the top of the seventh as Gilmer led off with a single up the middle. Following a Kevin Patterson strikeout, Creede Simpson came up with a big single through the left side on a hit and run to put runners on the corners with one out.

With pinch hitter Cullen Wacker at the plate Auburn attempted a squeeze bunt, but the ball was fouled off. The junior college transfer appeared to have given the Tigers a two-run advantage on a ground ball up the middle but pitcher Charley Sullivan deflected it to second baseman Jon Kelton who stepped on the bag at second and threw to first.

Despite being at least a step past the bag at first Wacker was called out to end the inning and send Auburn third base coach Link Jarrett racing across the infield to argue. He was quickly ejected before he was able to make his point known and Pawlowski spent several minutes chatting with Steve Dew to no avail.

After cruising through two innings Morris lasted one batter into the eighth inning as a single by Dugas to lead things off was the end of the line for him. Coming on in relief, Blatt got Bennett on a sacrifice bunt before Jared Reaves lined out to Justin Hargett at second base. Throwing to Alvord covering the bag, Hargett completed the double play to end the inning.

It was the job of Blatt to hold the one-run lead and he did just that with a dominating ninth inning to seal the win. Auburn has now won all three Capital City Classic games in Montgomery.

The Tigers will return to action this weekend to face the Arkansas Razorbacks in a three-game series at Plainsman Park to open SEC play.

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