Jaguars Shut Down Tigers

Auburn, Ala.–-South Alabama starting pitcher P.J. Walters threw a complete game seven-hitter Tuesday night against Auburn as the Jaguars shut out the Tigers for the first time since 1984.

Despite temperatures in the 30s for much of the game, Walters threw 140 pitches to earn the victory and improve South Alabama's record to 5-5 on the season.

For the Tigers the story was missed opportunities and bad defense as Auburn left 11 men on base in the game and made three errors, two of which led directly to South Alabama runs. Auburn coach Tommy Slater said that his team just didn't do the things it needed to in order to get a victory.

"We didn't play very well," Slater said. "We were bad on defense. I didn't like our approaches at the plate tonight and I didn't like our effort. I don't want to take anything away from their pitcher. He competed and did a great job, but that's not a guy that I feel should have thrown a complete game against us–the bottom line is they played harder than we did tonight and they won the ballgame."

While Auburn's mistakes helped USA at the plate, Auburn couldn't take advantage of several opportunities at the plate. Despite a three-hit night from first baseman Karl Amonite to push his average to just under .500, the Tigers couldn't get any runs across thanks to 11 strikeouts and just three walks from Walters.

Mike Felix pitched for the first time in nearly a month.

Designated hitter Aaron George had three of South Alabama's eight hits on the night as Auburn pitchers Josh Blake, Mike Felix, Jared Shore, John Madden and Michael Nix pitched well enough to win.

"Josh was good," Slater said. "We drop a pop-up early on and I believe that leads to an un-earned run off Blake. We weren't good on defense tonight. A couple of dropped pop-ups hurt us tonight. I was very disappointed in the way the team played tonight."

Both starting pitchers were good early and Blake held his own until a leadoff walk in the third inning led to the game's first run. Facing the number nine hitter, Blake walked Patrick Weaver to bring the top of the order to the plate. Weaver was hitting just .115 coming into the contest. He quickly stole second and reached third later in the inning after an infield single by Tyler Jones and Ben Froemming getting hit by a pitch. Auburn was fortunate as a fly ball to Clete Thomas in right field led to a double play, but the play scored Weaver for USA's first run.

The lead increased in the fourth inning off Felix, who was pitching for the first time since Feb. 6 against Hofstra because of a bad back. Josh Morgan led off the inning with a single to left field and moved to second on a wild pitch. He then stole third base and scored on a George single to left field. Felix settled down and got out of the inning, but Auburn would be fighting an uphill battle the rest of the way against Walters.

Continuing a trend of late, Auburn had trouble with runners in scoring position against Walters all night. In the fourth the Tigers loaded the bases with two outs only to see Adam Stacey strike out with a chance to cut into the two-run deficit. In the sixth the Tigers again put runners in scoring position as an Amonite double with one out gave him his second hit of the evening. One out later designated hitter Russell Dixon reached on an error that put runners on the corners. Stacey would again get his shot, and again failed to come through as he flew out sharply to left field to end the inning.

The Tigers gave one to the Jaguars in the seventh thanks to shaky defense by Madden on the mound. With one out in the inning Jones reached on an error as an easy pop-up back to Madden on the mound was dropped. Taking advantage of the opportunity Jones quickly stole second and scored on a Ben Froemming single into right-center field. That gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead and that's all that Walters would need.

Auburn tried to ignite a rally again in the eighth inning when Bruce Edwards led off with a single to left field off Walters. Following a Clete Thomas strikeout, Amonite again delivered with a single to left field that pushed Edwards around to third. That would be as close as the Tigers would come though as both Josh Bell and Dixon struck out to end the inning and the Auburn threat. Walters shut down the Tigers in the ninth to improve to 3-1 on the season.

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