Ahead 10-2 going to the ninth inning, Auburn emptied the bullpen and the Musketeers took full advantage with a three-run home run to cut the lead down to five. Xavier would then load the bases against Garrett Deloney, Jacob Milliman and Andrew Maxwell and force the Tigers to go to sophomore Kevin Davis to preserve the win. Walking in a run to make it a four-run game, Davis struck out Will Larue to earn the save and give the Tigers the victory.
“I think our guys really did a good job of coming out early and putting the runs up,” Coach Sunny Golloway said. “The six hits in the first inning really sent a statement. Then we tacked on three more in the fifth and what it did was give Coach (Tom) Holliday an opportunity to throw some guys that haven’t gotten to throw.”
Paced by Nulph’s four hits, Auburn pounded out 14 hits on the way to the win. Damon Haecker, Blake Logan and Alex Polston all added a pair of hits as well for the Auburn offense. Finishing the weekend 9-14 in three games, Nulph said it was just a day when everything fell into place for him and the offense as a whole.
“I was really seeing the ball well today,” Nulph said. “I think we all saw it well today. We had 14 hits and 10 runs. I think we’ve been taking really good at-bats every game and that’s what we need to continue to take into conference play.”
On the mound Auburn starter Trey Wingenter struggled from the outset on Sunday as he loaded the bases in each of the first two innings, but only allowed a single run in the process. It did force him to throw a ton of pitches as he made it just four innings before turning things over the bullpen to take it home.
A total of eight Auburn pitchers combined to allow 10 hits in the win, but it wasn’t pretty as Xavier had opportunity after opportunity throughout the game in the loss. Four different times the Musketeers left the bases loaded on Sunday and overall they stranded 17 total baserunners.
Auburn didn’t waste any time jumping on Xavier starter Trent Astle in the first inning with five runs to break the game open early. Trailing 1-0, the Tigers got a one-out single from Haecker to get things going. Jordan Ebert followed with a double to the gap in left-center to easily score the speedy Haecker and tie the game.
A Daniel Robert ground ball back to the pitcher was misplayed as Astle threw to third to try to cut down Ebert, only he was able to scamper safely back to second. With runners on first and second Hunter Tackett walked to bring Nulph to the plate. Getting a pitch to handle, the shortstop drilled a double to left field to score two more and make it a 3-1 lead for the Tigers.
Logan followed with a double of his own to make it a three-run lead for Auburn. Following a Polston single it was J.J. Shaffer’s turn to do some damage as he got the sixth and last hit of the inning with a single up the middle to score Logan for the 5-1 Auburn lead.
Blake Logan bunts for a base hit on Sunday.
Adding a single run in the third on a pair of doubles from Nulph and Polston, Auburn added to its lead in the fifth after Xavier added its second run of the game in the top of the inning off reliever Will Thompson. A pair of singles from Tackett and Nulph set the table for the Tigers with Logan called on to bunt them into scoring position. The catcher did more than that however as his bunt down the third base line was good enough for a hit to load the bases with nobody out.
Following a Polston strikeout, Shaffer was hit by a pitch to force home a run for the Tigers. Xavier pitcher Zach Johnson then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Nulph to score the eighth run of the game for Auburn. Haecker finished things off with a single to give Auburn a commanding seven run lead.
The Tigers added a single run in the seventh to make it a 10-2 lead, but Xavier wouldn’t go down without a fight as Selby Chidemo’s three-run home run in the ninth set the stage for a much closer ending that Auburn was looking for to secure the sweep.
Auburn returns to action Tuesday night at 6 p.m. when the Tigers take on Samford at Plainsman Park.
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