McElroy Blasts Auburn Past LSU To Win Series

Auburn defeated LSU 3-1 on Saturday night for its fifth-straight SEC road win.

Baton Rouge, La.--Casey McElroy's two-run homer in the ninth inning broke open a tie game and pitchers Cory Luckie and Ethan Wallen combined to hold LSU's bats silent as Auburn won its fifth consecutive SEC game with a 3-1 win Saturday night at Alex Box Stadium.

"What a game," coach John Pawlowski said. "Zach Blatt, what he did last night, and Cory Luckie tonight just pitched out of trouble. We had some situations. We had to walk (Mikie) Mahtook and got a strikeout and a ground ball up the middle. He made big pitches when he needed to and then we were fortunate Casey McElroy came up with a huge hit for us."

With the win Auburn improves to 20-14 overall and 7-7 in SEC play. With Tennessee sweeping Alabama in a doubleheader on Saturday the Tigers find themselves just one game out of first place in the Western Division as they go for the sweep on Sunday.

With the game tied at one in the ninth, Auburn got a quality pinch hit at-bat from junior Cullen Wacker for the second night in a row. Leading off the ninth he singled and advanced to second on a Justin Fradejas sacrifice bunt. Trying to get more speed in the game Auburn pinch ran Justin Hargett for Wacker at second, but it wouldn't matter.

Working the count to 3-2, McElroy got a pitch to drive and deposited it over the right field wall for his sixth home run of the year. The blast put Auburn ahead for good and continued the hot streak on the road with five consecutive wins away from Plainsman Park.

"I was really just fighting to put the ball in play and move the runner," McElroy said. "I had struggled tonight offensively and when I got the count to 3-2 I was really looking for a ball that I could make contact with or potentially fight off. I was fortunate it was a good pitch and I barreled it up.

"I really didn't know it was out until I was close to first base and coach Ty McGahee said nice hit, way to go or something. Then it kind of hit me. I had no idea."

While McElroy's blast was the game winner, it wouldn't have been possible without the pitching of Luckie. Pitching six and two/thirds innings, the Prattville native allowed just one run on six hits and struck out nine. Wallen came in and got the win, walking three but not allowing a run in the final two and one/third innings.

"Me and Fox (Scott Foxhall) have been working on some stuff," Luckie said. "The start of the year was rough and it has been a lot of mental stuff. I just feel comfortable now. Tony (Caldwell) has done a really good job of managing the game back there (catcher) and he really deserves some credit for what he's doing behind the plate.

"I think this team is turning the corner and we needed that kind of atmosphere," Luckie added. "I think the younger guys are starting to realize what it feels like to win. That's really going to help us down the road."

Auburn was able to get the win despite the fantastic pitching of LSU starter Kevin Gausman. Going eight and one/third innings, he allowed all three runs on just five hits and struck out eight. He allowed just three hits in the first seven innings, but Auburn was able to come up with a big ninth inning to get the win.

LSU (22-14, 3-11) scored its only run in the second inning as Austin Nola led off with a double and scored moments later on a one-out single by Mason Katz. Auburn was held scoreless until the seventh when the Tigers played small ball to put a run on the board. McElroy led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a Caldwell single to make it 1-1. That's how things would stay until the ninth.

Auburn escaped two serious jams in the sixth and eighth innings to stay in the game with LSU however. With one out in the sixth Rapn Rhymes singled and Hanover followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Facing Mikie Mahtook, Auburn decided to put him on intentionally to load the bases. It proved to be a great call as Luckie recovered to strike out Nola and get Kirk Cunningham on a ground ball to end the inning.

In the eighth Wallen struggled to find the strike zone as he walked Hanover and Mahtook to open the inning and put himself in a very bad position. Deciding to run LSU ran itself out of an inning as Hanover was gunned down at third by Caldwell for the first out. Wallen then struck out Nola and got Cunningham on a flyout as Auburn escaped danger and took some momentum into the ninth to set the stage for McElroy's bomb.

Auburn will go for the sweep on Sunday as Jon Luke Jacobs (1-2, 2.74 ERA) will face off against Ben Alsup (4-3, 3.27) for LSU. The game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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