Vines, Tigers Pound Tar Heels To Sweep Series

Auburn racked up 18 hits on the way to an 11-5 win over North Carolina Sunday afternoon as the baseball Tigers completed the weekend sweep of the Tar Heels.

Auburn, Ala.--Doug Vines had a career-high five hits and Levale Speigner pitched seven innings, allowing just three runs, to lead the Auburn Tigers (15-4) to a 11-5 win over North Carolina (6-8) Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park in front of 2,966 fans.

The win gives Auburn the weekend sweep of the Tar Heels and gives the Tigers momentum as they prepare to head into SEC play next weekend when they play host to the Kentucky Wildcats.

"It's real big," Vines said of the weekend sweep. "Coming off the Clemson series we just were a little down because we thought we had opportunities to win. So, we bounced back against Murray State and we wanted to come back this weekend after playing good on Tuesday and Wednesday. This gives us a whole lot of confidence going into Troy State on Tuesday and starting the opener against Kentucky on Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

For Vines this was a game to remember. With just five hits on the season coming into Sunday's game, the redshirt freshman from Woodstock, Ga., came alive on Sunday and lit up Tar Heel pitching with hits to all fields and of all varieties. Whether it was a single up the middle, a single to the right side or a bunt single, the 5-11, 241-pound speedster made the plays at the plate in the series finale. With the day done and the hits in the book, he admitted a good bit of his big day was due to some work and advice the coaches had for him this past week.

"Coach has been working on me all this weekend," Vines said. "I decided I would come out and really work hard. I've been feeling good in the cages and I thought I would come out and make the best of the opportunities I've got."

Those opportunities came early, but not before the Tar Heels got on the board first, on the first pitch of the game no less. Looking dead red for a fastball, lead-off man Adam Greenberg took Speigner's first pitch of the game over the wall in right field for a home run and just like that North Carolina was ahead 1-0. But, from that moment on it was all Speigner.

Shutting down a good hitting club until the Tar Heels were able to scratch single runs off him in the sixth and seventh innings, Speigner said he was determined not the let them have the inside part of the plate following Greenberg's home run.

Levale Speigner picked up his fourth win of the season Sunday by throwing just 85 pitches in seven innings.

"He came out looking for a fastball and I threw it where I wanted to and he hit it," Speigner said. "I came back and I wanted to show that next guy that they weren't going to live on that inside corner turning on balls. I got it in and he hit a weak ground ball. After that I was right back in my game. There was nothing better to do than to get the second guy to chink one. Then I was right back in it."

Trailing 1-0 Auburn wasted precious little time in getting back even. With one out, Hulett drew a base-on-balls from North Carolina starter Garry Bakker and advanced to second on an errant pick-off attempt. Moving to third on a fly ball to right field by Trent Pratt, Hulett would score just one batter later as, after a walk to Mike Mueller, Scott Schade singled to right field to push him across with the first Auburn run of the day.

The Tigers would add another single run in the second as a Javon Moran double scored Vines from first to make the score 2-1 Auburn.

With Speigner cruising, Auburn continued to give him the cushion he needed to put this game away. In the third, Mueller again drew a walk, this time to open the inning. Freshman Matt Grooms followed with a single to left that put runners on first and second. Third baseman Josh Todd then reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases for Vines. Getting his pitch on a 1-0 count, the left-hander drilled one back up the middle for a single that scored both Mueller and Grooms giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead going to the fourth.

A beautiful Sunday afternoon at beautiful Plainsman Park.

Continuing their torching of Tar Heel pitching, the Tigers put the clamps on the win in the bottom of the fourth. Pratt got things started with yet another lead-off walk and stole second on a full-count pitch to Mueller after the big lefty struck out swinging.

Schade again delivered, singling to right to score Pratt and starting the rally that put the game away. Following a Grooms walk, both players advanced a base to give Todd a couple of runners in scoring position. He did his job as he lifted a fly ball to right field to score Schade from third and making the score 6-1.

Vines would end the scoring in an unconventional way with a two-out bunt single that scored Grooms from third. Holding a 7-1 advantage, the Tigers were able to coast the rest of the way home despite some late troubles out of the bullpen.

"We work with Coach Mac (Rob Macrory) all the time on bunting," Vines said. "We probably bunt 25 or 30 balls a day. When I looked up I was surprised with the runner on third and I had been swinging the bat good to see coach give me the bunt sign. I decided to lay one down and get down the line."

After Carolina scored a run in the top of the inning, the Tigers added some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and once again Vines was in the middle of things. Leading off with a single up the middle, he moved to second on a sacrifice by Jeroloman and then to third on a fly ball by Moran to right field.

Jonathan Schuerholz, in for Hulett at second, earned a walk to put speedy runners on both first and third. Putting Schuerholz in motion from first, Auburn forced a throw to second that wasn't in time allowing Vines to coast in from third to make the score 8-2.

Pratt followed with a single to center off of Russ Adam's glove at second base and the Tigers had a seven-run cushion heading to the top the seventh. North Carolina would get one of those back with two outs in the inning as Greenberg hit his second solo home run of the game to make the score 9-3. Both teams would add two runs in the eight before Cory Duiett came on in the ninth for the Tigers to close the door on the sweep.

Auburn returns to action Tuesday when the Tigers travel to Montgomery to face the Troy State Trojans at Paterson Field. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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