Surprise Starter Helps Tigers Scalp Seminoles

Auburn bounced back from two losses at FSU to win on the road at Florida State on Sunday with timely hitting and solid pitching.

Tallahassee, Fla.--Strong pitching by surprise starter Jared Shore and a six-run seventh inning powered Auburn to a 9-2 baseball victory at Florida State Sunday.

The Tigers avoided the sweep after losing 7-3 Friday and 6-5 Saturday.

"It was definitely a tough place to play," said Auburn catch Josh Bell. "They've got great fans. We just really wanted to come and see what we were made of. We were one pitch or a hit away in the first two games, but we flushed that and came back and played well today.

"That was definitely a heartbreaker yesterday," Bell added. "The guys just gutted it out and we won. I was really proud of the guys today."

Mike Felix was the scheduled starter for the Tigers, but was unable to pitch because of a tight back. Auburn used most of its top relievers in the first two games of the series, but head coach Tom Slater went with Jared Shore, who pitched two and a third innings in relief on Friday. The 6-3 sophomore right-hander came up with four scoreless innings to propel Auburn to the win.

Jared Shore

"I found out about five minutes before the game that I was going to be pitching," Shore said. "It's a little adversity, but it's my job whether it be the first inning of the game or the fourth inning of the game. I was expecting to throw one or two (in relief)--definitely not four. That's part of picking it up and doing what we need to do to win games."

After blowing a 5-1 lead in Saturday's game, the Tigers said they realized a 3-1 lead in Sunday's match-up wasn't safe against the Florida State bats heading into the seventh inning.

Third baseman Adam Stacey led off the inning and reached base on an error by FSU shortstop Nick Francis to get things started. Pinch-hitter Ben Sprague laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Stacey to second, Phillip Stringer was hit by a pitch and a long single off the right field wall by Bruce Edwards loaded the bases.

Tiger second baseman Tyler Johnstone sliced a double just inside the right field line to clear the bases and give Auburn a 6-1 lead. Clete Thomas followed with a single and Bell put the final run on the board for the Tigers with a three-run blast over the Auburn bullpen and into the parking lot in left field.

"I knew this guy was going to come at us with fastballs," Bell said. "I was just looking for a fastball and he threw it right where I wanted it--low and in--and I put the barrel of the bat on it."

The Tigers improved to 4-2 on the year and the loss was Florida State's first of the season, dropping the Seminoles to 8-1.

Auburn got on the scoreboard in the second inning. After five consecutive strikeouts by FSU sophomore starter Michael Hyde, Derek Sain got his first hit of the season with a double into the right field corner. Stringer followed with a single to left which brought home Sain to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

The Tigers built a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth where the Seminoles got their first run of the game. Auburn's Josh Blake pitched a one-two-three fifth inning, but struggled with his control in the sixth. After a walk, a balk and another walk, a pitch in the dirt allowed runners to move to second and third. After another walk, Blake was pulled for John Madden with two outs and the bases loaded.

Madden's first pitch hit FSU's Bryan Henry to cut the Auburn lead to 3-1, but that was all for the Seminoles in the sixth as Tony Thomas, Jr. grounded to first to end the inning.

Florida State added one more run in the ninth inning for the final score of 9-2. The final line for Auburn was nine runs on 13 hits with two errors. Florida State finished with two runs on eight hits with one error.

"Especially early in the season, coming out an environment like this and getting a win is good," Shore said. "It'll help us build and it's good for the team playing against a College World Series caliber team."

The Tigers return home for their next 15 games starting with a Tuesday meeting with Mercer at 4 p.m. and a weekend series with VCU.

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