Caldwell's Three Homers Power AU Over Cats

Auburn pounded out five homers in a 15-8 blasting of Kentucky Saturday night.

Lexington, Ken.--Auburn senior catcher Tony Caldwell went 5-5 with three home runs and seven RBI to lead the Tigers to a 15-8 pounding of the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night to win the series. Trailing 6-3 in the sixth inning, Auburn (17-14, 4-7) scored 12 consecutive runs to put this one out of reach as pitchers Derek Varnadore and Cory Luckie did a solid job on the mound to lead the Tigers to the win.

"Our guys kept their composure today," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "I thought Varney gave us a chance to win. He kept battling. This park for whatever reason today, both pitchers left some balls up and it was carrying today. We were very fortunate to put some very good swings on it.

"We're down 6-3 and all of the sudden we jump right back in that thing and take it from there. It was another very good and solid offensive approach tonight."

Varnadore pitched five innings to get the win, allowing four earned runs on six hits and striking out four. It was his fourth win of the season. For Luckie it was perhaps his best outing of the year as he earned his first save by allowing two runs on four hits in four innings and struck out a career high nine batters.

"We had been having some trouble holding after we've scored in an inning," Luckie said. "I was really trying to focus on throwing strikes down in the zone and bringing us back into the dugout with a zero on the board.

"Anytime you can throw your off-speed stuff for strikes it gives you a little leeway with everything else. I was having some trouble spotting my fastball, but when you're spotting your off speed stuff it makes it look harder. Once I throw my off speed for strikes it helps me a little bit."

Offensively Caldwell was the main cog in a 20-hit attack for the Tigers as they pounded out five home runs for the first time since doing it at Ole Miss last year. Casey McElroy and Creede Simpson each had three hits and a homer to add to Caldwell's heroics on a night when things just fell into place offensively.

"The ball is flying here," Caldwell said. "There were a lot of homeruns today. I just got good pitches and didn't miss them. I was very fortunate to hit the ball like I did today."

Auburn wasted little time getting the offense started in the first inning as four consecutive singles led to a pair of runs for the Tigers. With one out Justin Fradejas singled to get the streak going. McElroy followed to continue his strong weekend and singles by Dan Gamache and Caldwell followed to score both runners for the 2-0 lead. Unfortunately that's how things would end in the first as Wes Gilmer hit into an inning-ending double play.

Staked to a lead Varnadore would be bitten by the two out bug that has plagued Auburn for the last two weeks. With a runner on first and two outs J.T. Riddle reached on an error by left fielder Bobby Andrews. Braden Kapetyn scored all the way from first on the mistake as Riddle advanced to second. Another single then scored Riddle to tie the game at two heading to the second.

That's the way things would stay until the top of the fourth when Caldwell broke the tie with a solo homer to right field. The blast put the Tigers in front, but only for a moment. In the bottom of the inning solo homers from Thomas McCarthy and Dallen Reber gave Kentucky its first lead of the game. Despite having just five hits in four innings Kentucky led 4-3 going to the fifth.

The long ball again came back to haunt Varnadore in the fifth as a leadoff walk was followed by a Chad Wright homer to make it 6-3 Wildcats. It was the third homer allowed in the game by the junior as the Tigers were forced to climb out of a hole.

Auburn did just that in the sixth as a one-out single by Gamache brought Caldwell back to the plate and he came through once again, blasting his second homer of the game to left field. The bomb cut Kentucky's lead to one, but the Tigers weren't done yet.

A Gilmer single and a double by Simpson with two outs brought second baseman Justin Hargett up looking for a two-out hit of his own. Taking the ball back up the middle, Hargett drove home both runners to complete the four-run inning and put the Tigers in front 7-6.

That would be the end of the line for Varnadore as Luckie came on in relief to start the bottom of the sixth inning and pitched a scoreless inning to bring the Tigers back to the plate looking for more in the seventh. They would get it on one swing of the bat as a walk to Fradejas brought the red hot McElroy to the dish. Getting a pitch to drive, he hit his fifth homer of the year to make it 9-6 Auburn.

In the eighth a Simpson double and an Andrews single made it a four-run advantage for the Tigers and in the ninth Caldwell put the game out of reach with his third homer of the game, a three-run shot. Simpson later added a two-run shot for a 15-6 Tigers' lead. Kentucky scored two meaningless runs in the ninth, but it was far too little and too late.

Auburn will go for its first SEC sweep of the season on Sunday as junior Jon Luke Jacobs will get the call for the Tigers. The first pitch is scheduled for noon central time and it can be seen on CSS.

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