Nine Tigers Combine To No-Hit Blazers

Auburn pitchers threw the second no-hitter in 18 days as they shut down the UAB Blazers Tuesday night in a 9-2 win. They have now allowed just one hit in the last 19 and one/thirds innings pitched.

Auburn, Ala.--Freshman shortstop Chuck Jeroloman took a head first dive to his left, caught the ball and flipped it to Jonathan Schuerholz covering second base for the final out of the game as the Auburn Tigers defeated the UAB Blazers 9-2 Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.

So what you say? Well, that one play preserved Auburn's second no-hitter of the season as a school record nine pitchers combined to hold the Blazers without a hit and only two walks as the Tigers won for the 18th time this season against only five losses while UAB's record falls to 8-12.

Making Jeroloman's play even more important is what transpired in the ninth inning. Leading 9-0, Auburn coach Steve Renfroe inserted his eighth pitcher of the night into the game in the form of Cory Dueitt. With one out and nobody on base, Jeremy Moran drew a walk from Dueitt to break up a perfect game. Shortstop Mark Garner then hit a ground ball to Jeroloman at shortstop for what appeared to be the game ending double play. Only Jeroloman forgot one thing, the ball. Hurrying his play, he dropped the ball and couldn't flip it to Schuerholz in time at second base to get the speedy Moran and UAB had runners on first and second with no outs.

Reid Price pitched an inning for the Tigers. He was the fourth of nine Auburn pitchers to take the mound on Tuesday night.

Things went from bad to worse for the Tigers as another ground ball turned into disaster when Schuerholz fielded a high hopper off the bat of Scottie Holden. Attempting to tag Garner to start the double play, he tripped on the runner's foot before making the tag and overthrew Scott Schade to allow Moran to score from second with UAB's first run of the game.

Jonathan Schuherholz made a strong play at third base to preserve the no-hitter and he contributed two runs scored and two hits.

Jeroloman then had his second chance at redemption only to come up short. Third baseman Matt Gauldin hit a ground ball to Jeroloman's left and the smooth freshman uncharacteristically misplayed the ball allowing Garner to score and the Tigers had committed their third error of the inning to give the Blazers life at 9-2 with still just one out.

Dueitt settled down as he struck out Millard Dawson for the second out of the inning. That would be the end of Dueitt's night though as a strict pitch count sent him out of the game and brought senior Sean Jones in for the final out of the game. It would take him a little while to accomplish the feat though as he walked Justin Miller to load the bases with two outs. That's when Jeroloman made the play of the game, at least the play that preserved the no-hitter.

Center fielder Mitch Jones drilled a 2-0 pitch up the middle sending Jeroloman into a scramble. He made his dive, fielded the ball and flipped it to Schuerholz sending the crowd of 3,261 into a frenzy and preserving what is believed to be an NCAA record for the number of pitchers combining to throw a no-hitter.

"I was definitely hoping to get another shot to make up for the two balls I had missed earlier," Jeroloman said following the game. "I had to do something to save our pitchers some pitches and keep the no-hitter intact even though it really doesn't mean anything. I was just waiting for the ball to get hit to me. I was praying for it."

In what has to be the strangest no-hitter in Auburn history and maybe Southeastern Conference history, Auburn kept the Blazers at bay with a variety of pitchers and styles Tuesday night. That began with sidearming Mike Mueller on the mound. In his first start of the season, the junior college transfer pitched two perfect innings after only pitching one inning this season earlier against Mercer. Noting that the constant changes may have helped the staff keep UAB off balance, Mueller said this was definitely out of the ordinary.

"The only thing about it is that no hitter ever gets to see the same guy twice," Mueller noted. "That's a disadvantage towards the hitters. You see a left-hander side-arm and then a right-hander three-quarter arm and then an overhand right-hander. One after another...actually I only thought there were going to be about four or five guys throwing. I knew I was only throwing two but I thought everybody else was two, two, two but coach was like, ‘No, everybody else is throwing one.' So it was interesting ball game."

While the pitchers were combining to make history, the Auburn hitters were once again doing what it takes to get the win. This time they took care of business early behind the strong play of some young guys.

In the second inning freshman Matt Grooms walked to start the inning and stole second before Trent Pratt sacrificed himself by hitting to the right side to move Grooms to third with one out. That play would become important as, after a strikeout to Doug Vines and a walk to Jeroloman, Grooms would score on a wild pitch to give the Tigers the early 1-0 lead.

Matt Grooms waits on a UAB pitch.

Auburn added another run in the third inning thanks to the play-making skills of Schuerholz. The junior third baseman put down a perfect bunt to reach first safely. Javon Moran followed but couldn't advance Schuerholz as a lazy fly ball to right field was all he could muster. However, a freshman would deliver as Tug Hulett ripped a double down the left field line to plate Schuerholz and give the Tigers the 2-0 lead.

A freshman would again come through in the fourth, but a senior got things started when Trent Pratt singled to start the inning. Vines followed with a bunt single down the third base line setting the stage for Gamble. One out later, the freshman from Montgomery jumped all over a 1-0 pitch and sent it deep over the right field wall for a three-run home run that gave Auburn a 5-0 lead.

Freshman Sean Gamble hit his second college homer.

Grooms would score on another wild pitch in the sixth and Josh Todd singled home one run and Schade doubled home two more in the eight to make the score 9-0 Tigers heading to the ninth.

Overshadowed in the process were several more notes from Tuesday night's game. Moran extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the eighth inning. The crowd on 25 cent hotdog night consumed 7,450 hotdogs before the night was done.

The Tigers return to action Friday at 6 p.m. CST when they face the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville in the first of three games on the weekend. Game times for the weekend are 3 p.m. CST on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. CST on Sunday.

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