Auburn, Ala.--A move to third base didn’t slow down the hot start for Cody Nulph at the plate as the senior went 4-5 with two doubles and five RBI on Tuesday to lead a powerful Auburn Tigers attack in a 15-1 victory over Alabama A&M. Daniel Robert added three hits and three runs scored as the Tigers pounded the Bulldogs for 17 total hits to improve to 5-3 on the season.
On the mound the Tigers gave true freshman Daniel Sprinkle the start and it wasn’t the smoothest of outings for the Arkansas native. Even though he didn’t allow a run in three innings of work he did give up two hits and walked four on 58 pitches, but got big double plays in both the first and second innings to get out of jams. Coach Butch Thompson said the biggest thing he saw from his freshman was the willingness to compete.
“He didn't have a second pitch tonight but I think he's a winning ballplayer,” Thompson said. “He got the three shutout frames, the three goose eggs, to start the game because he competed not having his best stuff. I was proud of that.”
Picking up for him in the fourth, Ben Braymer pitched two scoreless innings before giving way to Cole Lipscomb in the sixth. Back from a weekend suspension, Lipscomb allowed a leadoff triple to the first batter he faced leading to the first run of the game for the Bulldogs. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning before turning things over to Gordon Cardenas for the final two.
It didn’t take long for Auburn to assert its dominance and find the quick strike offense that was missing for much of last weekend. In the second inning a walk to Niko Buentello and a single by Robert put Auburn in business with nobody out. Following a Blake Logan flyout, Nulph’s first double of the game scored Buentello to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.
In the starting lineup for the first time this season, left fielder J.J. Shaffer’s first hit of the game scored Robert and put runners on the corners with one out. Off and running, Shaffer stole second and when the pitch got by the Alabama A&M catcher it gave Auburn an early 3-0 advantage.
Two innings later Auburn would change that in a big way with 10 runs to quickly end all the drama in the Tuesday afternoon contest. Reaching on an error and moving to second on a wild pitch, Jordan Ebert got things started before another walk to Buentello put the pressure on the Bulldogs. Getting a pitch to handle, Robert ripped a double to right field to score Ebert and leave two in scoring position.
Another walk, this one to Logan, set the stage for Nulph. In the lineup at third base for the first time this season, Nulph yanked a pitch into the gap in left-center that went down for his second double of the game. All three runners scored to give him four driven in for the game in just two at-bats. By the time the dust had settled the Tigers added five more hits, with doubles from Anfernee Grier and Buentello, to put a 10-spot on the board and give Auburn a 13-0 lead.
“You got a 3-0 ballgame at that point and just connected,” Thompson said. “The hitting got contagious. We had a bunch of good at-bats there. We took balls and swung at strikes. Anfernee Grier was 1-of-2 but he's got four walks. Buentello gets another three RBI and Nulph, I guess is the story tonight with the five RBI. I think he got the first big hit of that inning and kind of blew the gap to left field. We played really good offensively.”
Alabama A&M finally scratched in the top of the sixth off Lipscomb when Nolan Ramsey tripled to lead off the inning and later scored on a ground ball. Auburn got that run back and one more in the bottom of the sixth however as a Grier walk and a Ben Craft double accounted for the first run with Buentello singling home Craft to add to his RBI total for the Tigers, now at 19 in just seven games.
Auburn returns to action on Wednesday with the Tigers take on Alabama in the second of back-to-back games against the Bulldogs. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.