Baseball Tigers Swat Yellow Jackets

Aubrn got a great outing from starting pithcer Arnold Hughey and got the bats going Tuesday night to defeat Georgia Tech 6-2.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers got six strong innings of work from lefty starter Arnold Hughey and had the bats working for most of the night Tuesday to defeat the 12th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 6-2 at Plainsman Park.

Hughey was solid all night as he gave up only six hits and two runs--only one earned--in his six innings of work. The junior also struck out eight Georgia Tech batters and did not give up a walk in the winning effort that moves his record to a 3-0 on the season and dropped the nationally-ranked Yellow Jackets into a four-game losing skid.

"He was outstanding," Auburn Coach Steve Renfroe said about his starter's performance. "He was the story of the game tonight and the great thing was Arnie was very aggressive. He is aggressive with all of his pitches. He threw in. He threw away. He bounced breaking balls.

"He said he didn't feel his change-up early so he just shelved it and located and had great life on his fastball to his arm side and that is what he hasn't been able to do," the coach added. "He made a few adjustments mechanically and that is the Arnie you will see and our kids fed off if it."

Arnold Hughey gave the Tigers six strong innings and came away with the win

Hughey said that Tuesday night's game was just the kind of effort he and his coaches were looking for vs. a quality opponent. "I knew coming off of kind of a rough start last weekend they wanted me to kind of rebound and show what I could do and my arm never really gives me trouble," the lefty said. "Four or five days of rest and I am ready to go again."

Hughey also noted that he got things done with only two pitches--one of which he was not very comfortable with heading into the game. "Really just fastball/slider for most of the game," Hughey said about what was working for him. "I haven't really had a slider this season like I have wanted to and I had to work on that short notice. Basically, in two or three days and I did that."

At the plate Auburn, which moves its record to 10-1, got things started early and put up two big runs on a Sean Gamble single in the first to give the Tigers an early lead to delight the crowd of 4,069 who enjoyed the warm, early March evening.

Junior college transfer right fielder Ben Sprague started things off with a single to right. Then Tug Hulett received one of his three walks to put runners at first and second. Then, following a Josh Bell strikeout, Gamble ripped his two-run single up the middle.

Georgia Tech, which falls to 6-4 with the loss, got one run back in the second as a Micha Owings doubled off the wall in left to move Mike Nickeas from first to third with no outs. Hughey then grabbed control and struck out the next two batters, but then a throwing error by third baseman Ben Maitland pulled Josh Sullivan off the bag at first and allowed Wes Hodges to reach first and Nickeas to score. However, then Sullivan alertly saw Owing heading home and gunned him down at the plate to end the inning.

The scoring ended until the bottom of the fourth inning when Auburn broke out for three more runs to pull out to a 5-1 advantage.

Chuck Jeroloman got things started for the Tigers with a single to left. Then a Sullivan double off the wall in right put runners on the corners for Maitland and the sophomore third baseman came up big. With the infield in and the right fielder shading him the other way Maitland pulled one down the line and it rolled all the way out to the corner for a two-run triple.

Then freshman Bruce Edwards ripped a single up the middle to score Maitland.

The Yellow Jackets scored their second and final run in the fifth inning as left fielder Steven Blackwood led off with a single. Next Hodges, who was three of four on the night, singled to move Blackwood to third. Then following a strikeout, Eric Patterson doubled over Maitland's head to score Blackwood.

The RBI double did end one dubious streak for the Yellow Jackets. Heading into the game Georgia Tech had been 0-21 over the last three games with runners in scoring position.

In the sixth, Jeroloman added an insurance run for the Tigers when he crushed a Blake Wood 1-1 fastball. The homer sailed over the wall in dead center field.

"I was just looking for a ball to drive the other way and he made a mistake and left it in the middle of the plate," the junior shortstop said about the homer. "I sped my bat up and hit it up the middle."

Chuck Jeroloman led the Tigers at the plate going 2-4 with two runs scored and a solo home run.

In the seventh, Renfroe handed that game to closer Steven Register and the junior took it to the house. Register closed out Tech in the final three innings to get his first save of the year. Over the three innings Register gave up only two hits, no runs and struck out three Tech batters.

Renfroe said it was an easy decision to give Register the ball so early. "He wanted the ball and he needed to get out there and stretch it out a little bit," he said "We had plenty of arms in case anything started going crazy so we weren't worried about that really. He just needed to stretch out because we haven't been in a lot of games where he has been going Friday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday."

For the game Auburn scored six runs on nine hits and committed one error.

Georgia Tech scored two runs on eight hits and had no errors. Hodges was 3-4 and Patterson was 1-5 with the Yellow Jackets only RBI. Ryan Turner took the loss for Tech in his first career start. Lee Hyde, Blake Wood and John Goodman also pitched for Tech in the loss.

Overall, Renfroe said Tuesday's game was a good barometer for his team at this point in the season. "I think we are solid," he said. "We are not great, but if Arnie builds on that and then he has a chance to be very good. I think our key is going to be the starters setting the tone because we do usually defend very well. We scrap at the plate and a different guy seems to come up with a hit when we need it."

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