Play On: Buckeyes Overpower Tigers

Ohio State sent Auburn into the loser's bracket and forced a Saturday night elimination game for Auburn at the NCAA Baseball Regional at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--Ohio State's muscle was too much for Auburn to handle as the Buckeyes advanced to Sunday's NCAA Baseball Regional championship round with a 6-2 victory on Saturday.

Auburn now faces a Saturday elimination game against Clemson, which put Princeton out of the double-elimination tournament in extra innings in the first game elimination game on Saturday. Auburn must now beat Clemson on Saturday night and win two games vs. Ohio State on Sunday to win the regional. Auburn will pitch Colby Paxton in the Saturday night game.

Javon Moran had one of Auburn's eight hits vs. the Buckeyes.

Four Ohio State homers did the damage at Plainsman Park. Three came against Auburn starter Arnold Hughey and one was surrendered by Corey Dueitt.

Sean Gamble opened the action in the top of the first by slicing a leadoff double to left center. Javon Moran hit a bloop single to right center field putting runners on the corners. Auburn then took a quick 1-0 lead as Gamble scored on a slow groundout by Tug Hulett to second base and Moran, who was running on the 3-2 count, advanced to second base.

Pitcher Mike Madsen escaped the first with no more damage as he struck out Bobby Huddleston and Karl Amonite was retired on a fly ball to center.

In the second inning with one out, Auburn jumped in front 2-0 as Scott Schade nailed his long-awaited first homer of the season. Aided by a strong wind blowing towards left center, the ball easily cleared the center field wall.

Designated hitter Derek Sain followed that with a line drive double to right center field. Chuck Jeroloman hit a ground ball to the shortstop, who turned the play on the lead runner at third where Sain was tagged out. The Buckeyes got out of the inning when Gamble grounded out to second base.

Arnold Hughey looked sharp in the first two innings, but ran into trouble in the third. After a strikeout to open the inning, he walked number nine hitter Brett Garrard who scored when the next batter, Drew Anderson, launched a home run high over the Green Monster to tie the game at 2-2.

The long ball put the Buckeyes in front as the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the fourth, Steve Carravati, hit a high fly ball over the left center field wall to make it 3-2.

In the top of the sixth, Hulett opened inning by reaching first base when he was hit by a pitch from Madsen. He didn't get to second base until a two-out wild pitch with Thomas at the plate. The right fielder hit a sharp ground ball to the shortstop to end a fourth straight inning without an Auburn hit.

Ohio State struck quickly in the bottom of the sixth inning as leadoff hitter Christian Snavely hit a line drive that just barely cleared the center field fence as Moran made a leap for the ball. That made the score 4-2.

Steve Caravati then followed with a line drive to left field bringing Steve Renfroe to the mound for a pitching change. Hughey left the game after 71 pitches and four earned runs allowed.

Corey Dueitt entered the game and got Paul Farinacci to ground out to shortstop, but that moved the runner to third who had stolen second base. Dueitt got the second out on a bouncer up the middle that deflected off his glove to second baseman Hulett, who threw out the batter without allowing the runner on third to advance. Dueitt then forced another groundout to second to get the Tigers out of any more trouble.

In the top of the seventh, a one-out double by Sain ended the hit drought for the Tigers. The inning ended as he was thrown out at the plate from short left field on a soft line drive over the shortstop's head by Gamble.

In the Ohio State seventh, leadoff hitter Brett Garrard started the inning with a softly hit infield single to shortstop. He reached second on a balk by Dueitt and moved to third on the first out of the inning, a fly ball to center. Anderson then nailed his second homer of the game and his fourth of the regional, putting the Buckeyes on top 6-2 on a high line drive over the left center field wall. The leadoff man said that he has seen a lot of good pitches to hit in his two NCAA Tournament games.

Catcher Bobby Huddleston contributed a single for the Tigers.

As a crowd of 3,783 watched, Auburn finally chased Ohio State starter Mike Madsen in the ninth inning after Clete Thomas singled and Schade walked with one out in the ninth inning. Relief pitcher Matt Davis got Sain to ground out to second base for the second out. Shortstop Chuck Jeroloman struck out looking to end the game on a breaking ball.

Ohio State coach Bob Todd said that Madsen's pitching was the key to the victory along with "efficient" hitting. Madsden scattered eight hittings in 8 1/3 innings to improve his record to 7-1. The Buckeyes managed just seven hits off of Auburn. "It seemed like every time we got a hit, it produced runs," he said.

Madsen said that he didn't have any one pitch that was more effective than another. He said he tried to throw strikes and count on his defense to take care of business with ground ball outs. However, his fielders were busy catching a lot of fly balls that Auburn hit harmlessly to the infield and outfield.

Despite being the third seed, Madsden says he is not surprised that the Buckeyes beat Clemson and Auburn. "We play great baseball up north," he said. Todd agreed with his pitcher and added, "We play very good baseball up there."

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