Tigers Beat The Rain, But Can't Beat The Gators

Despite a long rain delay the Tigers and Gators were able to play nine full innings Friday night. However, Auburn was not able to keep the Gators off the scoreboard in a 7-4 loss.

Gainesville, Fla.—Following a 52-minute rain delay on Friday night the Auburn baseball team got out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning against the Florida Gators. However, that lead would be short lived as the Gators got big hits when they needed them on to take a 7-4 win over the Tigers at McKethan Stadium at Perry Field.

Tug Hulett got things started in the first with a two-out single. Then, Josh Bell reached on a error by Gators' third baseman Jonathan Tucker and Clete Thomas, who was moved down to the number five spot in the batting order, drove both Hulett and Bell in with a double to the wall.

The Tigers' lead would not last, however, as the Gators got clutch hitting from C.J. Smith, who leads Florida with a .371 average, and Ben Harrison, who is second on the team hitting .344. Smith started with a two out single to left and Harrison did the damage with a homer that just skirted over the wall in right. The low flying home run would have likely been a routine out in most SEC ballparks.

The Gators struck again in the bottom of the third inning when Adam Davis got on with a one out infield single and Smith followed with a walk to put runners on first and second. Then, Harrison came through again with his third RBI of the night as he singled in Davis and moved Smith to third with one out. Jeff Corsaletti, who was hitting .321 coming into the series, drove Smith in with a sacrifice fly to give the Gators a 4-2 advantage.

The Tigers were able to pull back to within one run at 4-3 in the top of the sixth as Chuck Jeroloman grounded out, but he was able to drive in Thomas on the play, who led off the inning with a triple to the wall.

Arnold Hughey

However, that was as close as Auburn would get because the Gators broke things open in the bottom of the sixth with three more runs to take a 7-3 advantage. The Tigers would add one more in the eighth to make the final margin of victory 7-4.

Auburn coach Steve Renfroe said following the game that it is tough for a team to win the way the Tigers played on Friday. "We jump right out and give it right back up. Then fight right back and give it up again.

"Clete is hitting the ball well right now, so is Tug and Sean (Gamble)," Renfroe added. "We have got to get (Josh) Bell going and stop them when we score."

Arnold Hughey got his first Friday start for the Tigers, to try and take a win in the series before facing the Gators' ace Justin Hoyman, who is 8-0 on the season and will get the nod on Saturday, Hughey's usual day in the rotation. However, the move did not work as the Florida hitters had no problem with Hughey, scoring seven runs, all of them earned, on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. The one high point for the starter, who moves to 6-2 on the season, was that he struck out six Florida hitters.

Chris Dennis came in and threw 2 1/3 innings of hitless baseball for the Tigers in relief, but it was too little too late with Florida already holding a 7-3 advantage when he entered the game with two outs in the sixth inning.

For the Gators, Tommy Boss, in his longest outing of the season, went six full innings and gave up three runs, only one of them earned, on eight hits. Connor Falkenbach came on in relief for Florida and gave up one run on two hits while striking out three in his three innings of work.

For the Tigers, who drop to 29-15 and 9-10 in league play, Thomas led the way going 3-4 with three runs batted in. Hulett was 2-4 as was Ben Maitland and Gamble got one hit in four at bats.

For the Gators, who move to 32-12, 12-7 in the SEC, Harrison led the way going 2-4 with three runs batted including the big homer. Smith was 1-2 and scored two runs, Austin Easley, who came into the game hitting .186, went 1-3 with two runs batted in.

In the first installment of battle of the Jerolomans, things came out pretty evenly. Chuck Jeroloman only managed one hit, but was able to drive in two runs. His brother Brian, however, went 2-4 with no runs batted in, but his team came away with the victory.

The second game of the series will get under way at noon CDT time on Saturday and will be televised regionally by the Sunshine Network and Fox Sports South. The Gators will send Hoyman to the mound and the Tigers will send their usual Friday starter Mike Felix, who is 4-3 with a 4.82 earned run average.

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