Solid Performance By Tigers Sinks Commodores

Auburn evened its SEC baseball series with a victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday evening.

Nashville, Tenn.--Auburn used timely hitting, solid defensive play and a strong performance by the bullpen to even its SEC baseball series with Vanderbilt on Saturday.

The Tigers never trailed as they defeated the Commodores 7-4 with Javon Moran contributing four hits and Colby Paxton making a solid start on the mound to improve his record to 5-1. Auburn didn't have much trouble solving Vandy pitcher Robert Ransom, who fell to 3-2.

Colby Paxton

The Tigers bats came alive with 14 hits and other well-hit balls. Vandy managed just five hits in the contest that featured the Tigers attacking early.

Auburn took a quick lead. Sean Gamble, who had three hits, opened the game with a single up the middle and the No. 2 hitter, Moran, singled him to second base. A sacrifice bunt by Tug Hulett put two runners in scoring position.

Bobby Huddleston then reached first on catcher's interference to load the bases. Karl Amonite's fielder's choice ground ball scored Gamble. Vandy got out of the inning as slumping Josh Bell struck out swinging.

The Commodores matched Auburn's run in the bottom half of the inning without the benefit of a hit. Ryan Klosterman, the leadoff hitter, reached second base when Clete Thomas dropped a fly ball to right field. He scored from third an out later on a groundout.

Chuck Jeroloman

Auburn regained the lead during its next at-bat with a pair of two-out hits. Chuck Jeroloman doubled down the left field line and scored on a single by Gamble.

The Tigers put together their best inning of the series in the top of the fourth. Scott Schade started it with a leadoff double to right center and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Thomas. Jeroloman's single up the middle made the score 3-1.

Gamble and Moran followed with singles to stretch the lead to 4-1. Hulett made the first out of the inning on a fly ball, but Huddleston kept the rally going with a single to left field to make the lead 5-1. That turned out to be the game-winning RBI>

Javon Moran

Huddleston moved up a base on a wild pitch and scored from there on a two-RBI double from Amonite, who continued his hot streak at the plate. That was the end of the day for Vandy starting pitcher Ransom, who was replaced by John Scott. Scott pitched out of the jam and Auburn didn't score again the rest of the game as he and two other relievers allowed the Tigers just three more hits.

Paxton was cruising on the mound for the Tigers until the sixth inning when the Commodores scored three runs to cut the gap to 7-4. Klosterman doubled to left field to start the rally and scored on a groundout. John Kaye's two-run homer and a single brought Levale Speigner in for relief. He put down the threat and didn't give up a hit in 1 2/3 innings.

Levale Speigner

Speigner kept the Commodores off the scoreboard until he was pulled in favor of closer Steven Register, who came in with one out and a runner on first in the eight inning. He handled the home team, giving up one hit and striking out two, as he picked up his SEC-leading 13th save of the season.

Vandy won the opener 7-4 on Friday night so the winner of Sunday's 1 p.m. CDT game will win the series 2-1. Auburn is scheduled to pitch junior right-hander Corey Dueitt, who will be making just his third start of the year to go with 21 relief appearances. He takes the spot in the rotation previously held by slumping Eric Brandon. Dueitt has a 6-1 record and a 2.06 earned run average. Vandy is expected to counter with Ryan Mullins, a freshman left-hander who is 2-6 with a 3.62 earned run average.

Auburn coach Steve Renfroe said he was pleased with his team's overall play in game two. He said getting the victory, after losing three of the last four SEC games, was important. "That's huge, they never get easy," he said. "We got a lot of two-strike hits, two-out doubles and played good defense. That's kind of our style."

Auburn will enter the regionally televised game on CSS in second place in the SEC West with its 13-7 record, trailing LSU in the standings. The Commodores, 9-11 in the league, are tied with Florida for second in the SEC East behind South Carolina.

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