Four Auburn pitchers combined to allow just one run on nine hits with sophomore reliever Jay Wade getting the win, allowing no runs on three hits in two and two/thirds innings.
Improving to 3-2 on the season with the win, Auburn will now travel to face the Arizona Wildcats in a three-game series this weekend.
Even with the easy victory on Wednesday, Auburn Coach John Pawlowski said his team is going to have to play much better if it hopes to take care of business against one of the best teams in the country this weekend.
"The thing is we had the bases loaded early and only got one (run) out of it," Pawlowski said. "They played a good game. We were very fortunate that we had a lot of situations, a lot of base runners. The top three guys in our order (Bobby Andrews, Jay Gonzalez, Ryan Tella) were on base 10 times today. You get those three guys on base with that type of speed and they can steal bases and create opportunities. Sooner or later somebody has to come up (with a big hit)."
The story of the game was free runners for the Tigers and not much in the way of clutch hitting. In addition to seven hitters reaching base after being hit by pitches, Auburn also was issued five walks, but couldn't string the hits together to put up big runs like they did on Monday in a 22-0 victory. Gonzalez and Garrett Cooper led the way with two hits each with Cooper adding three RBI.
"Like I told our team, ‘you're going to have to keep putting pressure on teams and hopefully somebody will come up,'" Pawlowski said. "That's why up 4-1 we decided to squeeze to get another run in to change the momentum a little bit. Dan Glevenyak put down a great squeeze. I thought overall we pitched well again today and I saw some encouraging things."
One of those was the pitching of senior Justin Bryant. Coming in with one out in the ninth, Bryant was sharp as he continues to come back from Tommy John surgery. Pawlowski said it was big to get him another outing and more work on the mound.
"He's going to play an important part in what we're doing," Pawlowski said. "His velocity and his feel for his breaking ball was pretty good tonight even though he didn't throw a lot of pitches."
With eight steals in eight attempts on Wednesday, Auburn now has 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts this year. That's almost half of the 44 stolen bases the Tigers had in 58 games last year and senior Creede Simpson said it's part of the new attitude for the team in 2012 to be aggressive and force the other team to make mistakes.
"It's fun," Simpson said. "It's a whole new ball game with the new bats. There aren't as many long balls and doubles. You have to do different things to create pressure on the opposing team.
"What we call speed ball is our game this year with the bunting and stolen bases," Simpson said. "It's just more of an up-tempo game. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense. It's just fun to be a part of."
Creede Simpson's fly ball puts Auburn on the board.
After scoring 22 on Tuesday against Alcorn State the Tigers looked like they were back for a lot more early in Wednesday's game as Andrews led off with a bunt single and quickly stole second base. A walk to Gonzalez and Tella getting hit by a pitch loaded the bases with nobody out for Auburn and the heart of the order coming to the plate.
Unlike Tuesday, however, the Tigers were unable to do any major damage as only a sacrifice fly by Simpson plated a run.
Leading 1-0 the Tigers finally got the offense going in the third inning and again it was the top of the order setting the table. Walks to Andrews, Gonzalez and Tella loaded the bases again with nobody out for Cooper. Striking out in his first opportunity in the first inning, the junior college transfer made up for it with a double to left field. All three runners scored on the double to make it a four-run advantage.
Poor base running kept Auburn from doing even more damage as a Simpson liner to Alcorn State second baseman Antolin Morales caught Cooper napping at second. The double play proved to be costly as Cullen Wacker followed with a double off the wall in left field. A Glevenyak ground ball brought the inning to a close with McCord staked to a four-run lead.
Alcorn State finally got on the board after 12 scoreless innings vs. the Tigers with a single run in the top of the fourth inning before the Tigers would answer back in the seventh. Leading off Simpson doubled to right field and quickly stole second to move into scoring position. A Wacker ground ball to first base failed to score the senior, but the Tigers decided to put the pressure on by sending Simpson from third with Glevenyak at the plate. Putting down a perfect squeeze bunt, Glevenyak got the job done to make it 5-1 Auburn.
With a four-run lead the Tigers turned to sophomore Will Kendall to start the eighth inning and he got the Braves three up and three down, allowing Auburn to extend the lead in the bottom of the inning. Hit by a pitch, Andrews stole second and advanced to third when the ball got by catcher Stephen Loupe. Doing a great job of hitting, Gonzalez slapped a single through the left side to score Andrews for the 6-1 lead.
Continuing the track practice, Gonzalez stole second for the eighth steal of the day for the Tigers. Following a fly ball from Tella, the sophomore scored on a single from Cooper that left fielder Domonique Griffin booted in left field. That would finish the scoring for Auburn as the Tigers won easily 7-1.
The Tigers will hit the road for the first time in 2012 with a three-game trip at Arizona scheduled for this weekend. With a single game on Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday, Auburn is hoping to take the series from the eighth-ranked Wildcats. Game times are 7 p.m. CST on Friday, the first game on Saturday is at 3 p.m. with the second set for 7 p.m.