"I thought our guys really played well," Slater said. "Our kids really took a great offensive approach to a great pitcher in (Lane) Mestepay tonight. We were able to get some things going offensively with the running game to manufacture some runs early in the game. Hughey (Arnold Hughey) gutted it out. LSU was hitting rockets all over the field against Hughey, but he gutted it out and got us four and two/thirds. (Jared) Shore did a nice job of cleaning up that inning and then Madden was very, very good at the end."
Facing a lineup loaded with power right-handed hitting, Madden was absolutely dominant against LSU Friday night. He threw 38 pitches, 26 of which were for strikes, and didn't allow a hit. He struck out two hitters and basically shut the door on the game following a two-run inning by Auburn in the seventh to break a four all tie. Slater said he felt like Madden was going to be a good match-up for his team.
"They've got a lot of right-handed hitters," Slater said. "John threw just one inning on Wednesday night and he's always better after getting an inning of work in the mid-week. So, we felt like he would be a good match for their guys tonight."
Reliever John Madden mows down another LSU hitter in Friday night's win.
Auburn got off to a good start against the five-game winner Mestepay as Tyler Johnstone led off the game by earning a walk. Following a Bruce Edwards strikeout, Johnstone stole second to get into scoring position for Clete Thomas. The play paid off for Auburn as Thomas singled up the middle to score Johnstone and put the visitors up 1-0. Despite reaching second on the throw to the plate, Thomas was stranded as Karl Amonite and Josh Bell failed to get him home. Leading 1-0, Auburn came back in the second looking for more.
Leading off the second, left fielder Ben Sprague worked another lead-off walk from Mestepay to put Auburn in business. Swinging at the first pitch, true freshman designated hitter Russell Dixon lined a single into left field that moved Sprague all the way to third with nobody out. Third baseman Phillip Stringer followed with a single to left that scored Sprague to put Auburn up 2-0. Trying to bunt the runners over, shortstop Adam Stacey pushed the ball past Mestepay at the mound for a single to load the bases with nobody out. The wily left-hander would coax Johnstone into a double play that scored Dixon to make it 3-0 Auburn, but that would be all as Edwards struck out to end the inning.
While LSU was hitting the ball very hard off Hughey, the defense kept the Fighting Tigers off the scoreboard and it also gave Auburn a chance to extend the lead in the third. With one out in the inning Amonite came to the plate and jumped on the first pitch for a double off the right field wall. Bell followed suit, swinging at the first pitch for a single into right field that scored Amonite easily and gave Auburn a 4-0 lead. Despite the strong start it was much too early to get comfortable when playing at LSU and the homestanding Tigers would demonstrate that in the bottom of the inning.
Karl Amonite comes back to the dugout after being taken out for a pinch-runner in the ninth inning. Amonite had three of Auburn's 11 hits on the night.
Leading off the inning, LSU left fielder Quinn Stewart took an outside fastball from Hughey and drilled a triple into the right field corner. Following a groundout to Stringer at third that didn't score Stewart, Blake Gill hit a ground ball to the right side that pushed him across for LSU's first run. Hughey then left one up to the SEC's hottest hitter and he paid for it as Ryan Patterson hit a 3-1 fastball deep over the left field wall for a solo home run to cut Auburn's lead to just two. It was Patterson's ninth home run in the last seven games and it put LSU squarely back into the game.
Hughey lasted into the fifth before LSU put an end to his night. With one out Patterson doubled to left field to get a rally started and Clay Harris followed with a single to left field that scored Patterson to cut the lead to one. A Nick Stavinoha single pushed Harris into scoring position before a Matt Liuzza ground ball back at Hughey apparently ended the inning, but that wasn't the case as Hughey threw to Stacey on the bag at second who fired to Amonite at first for the double play, but Amonite was ruled off the bag allowing the tying run to score for LSU. Shore came on for the final out of the inning.
After escaping a jam in the sixth inning when LSU got two runners on with two outs but didn't score, Auburn came back to score two in the seventh and seize control of the game. Leading off, Johnstone worked a walk from Mestepay. Just like in two previous innings on Friday night that would come back to haunt LSU as Edwards followed with a bloop single to right field that brought Thomas to the plate. The right fielder couldn't connect, as Mestepay got the strikeout he was looking for. Amonite followed with a sharp single to right field that scored Johnstone easily from third. Coming up throwing, Stavinoha sailed the ball over Liuzza's head into the Auburn dugout, allowing Edwards to advance to third and Amonite to second. Following an intentional walk to Bell, Sprague singled to right field to score Edwards and give Auburn a two-run lead that it would never relinquish. Coming on in the sixth with two runners on and two outs, Madden shut the door on LSU the rest of the way to earn his fourth win of the season and give Auburn a shot to win a series in Baton Rouge for the second time in its last three trips.
"They came back and tied it up," Amonite said. "All we were doing in our dugout is saying we had confidence in our offense and our pitching was going to keep it there for us and we were going to score a couple of runs. We did that. Madden came in and closed the door and did an absolutely fantastic job. You couldn't ask for anything better."
"The Friday night win is very, very big for us," Madden added. "We need to come out tomorrow and do it again."
Getting a no-decision, Hughey allowed nine hits and four runs in four and two/thirds innings. Shore gave up two hits in his one inning of work. Auburn touched Mestepay for six runs on seven hits in six innings. The loss drops him to 5-2 on the season.