Auburn, Ala.--It wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but for Jordan Ebert it was a game to remember as the senior second baseman went 5-6 with three doubles and three runs batted in as Auburn blasted Southern University 18-6 in the first of a three-game series at Plainsman Park. Anfernee Grieradded three hits, including a three-run home run, and three stolen bases as Auburn’s offense did the damage on the way to the easy win.
Pushing his average to .613 on the season with his career-high night, Ebert said for him it was a day when everything just fell into place.
“You don’t come to the park expecting to have five hits,” Ebert said. “I think that’s probably a career high for me. And with three doubles, the way I play the game I kind of find holes all over the place. I don’t go out there and overswing and try to hit a lot of doubles, but running into a couple felt pretty good tonight.”
On the mound Auburn used six different pitchers on the day with Tavo Rodriguez getting the start, allowing three runs on seven hits in three innings. Izaac Yarbrough got the win for the Tigers, allowing one run on two hits in two innings of work. Ben Braymer, Sam Mason, Colton Campbell and Gordon Cardenas rounded out the carousel of guys on the mound for the Tigers in a game that Coach Butch Thompson said left a lot to be desired.
“It was a challenging three hours and 45 minutes,” Thompson said. “Of course they were out of the field a lot, but we were too. I thought that was the worst day for our ballclub moving forward. I have respect for Southern and the history of Coach (Roger) Cator and the tradition of their program.
“I thought four or five guys on the mound did not get any better today,” he added. “That’s a huge concern. We’ve alluded to it. This is not a day where I’m going to be caught up looking at the scoreboard and seeing a big victory. I just see challenge after challenge and people need to keep getting better and better, including myself. I want to be positive in everything we do, but that’s probably not going to work moving forward if we don’t get better in that area.”
Anfernee Grier continued his hot start on Friday with three hits and three stolen bases
Much of Auburn’s damage was done in the second inning when the Tigers scored seven runs, but they came on just two hits and both of those were by Ebert. The inning started conspicuously enough as Ebert singled and was immediately picked off for the first out. After that however Southern did everything they could to help Auburn and the Tigers took advantage of it.
Following a Daniel Robert strikeout there were two outs and nobody on before a walk to Blake Logan opened the floodgates. After moving to second on a wild pitch Logan scored on a throwing error by the shortstop to put the Tigers on the board. A walk and a hit batter then loaded the bases for Josh Palacios. Another walk followed by a balk added two more runs for Auburn.
A walk to Melvin Gray kept the inning going for Niko Buentello and his ground ball looked like it would end the inning, but an error allowed yet another run to score and bring Ebert back to the plate.
With the bases again loaded Ebert sliced one down the right field line that dropped just fair before bouncing over the wall for a ground rule double. That allowed the final two runs of the inning to score and gave Auburn a big early lead. Southern got three of those runs back in the third inning when Dondrayas Harris lifted one over the green monster in left field for his first home run of the year. That cut Auburn’s lead to 7-3,but the Tigers answered back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Cody Nulph and a single by Palacios.
Both teams added a single run in the fifth inning before Auburn would break the game open in a big way in the seventh. Ebert was again at the center of things with a leadoff double for the Tigers and would later come around to score on a Damon Haecker single, his second of the game. With Logan on second and Haecker on first it was time for Grier to show his power. Getting a pitch to handle he drove it over the wall in center field for his second home run of the year. That put Auburn up 14-4.
Auburn tacked on two more runs in both the seventh and eighth innings while Southern scored a run in the ninth to make the final 18-6.
The Tigers go for the series win on Saturday with senior Justin Camp getting the ball for the Tigers. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.