Auburn moves to 23-8 overall while South Alabama falls to 18-10. The loss ends a six-game winning streak for the Jaguars.
In what was supposed to be a hitter's delight with both teams throwing plenty of pitchers to keep their rotations fresh for weekend play, the story was the performance of Auburn starter Mike Mueller. Making just his second start of the season, the junior college transfer pitched five complete innings, allowing just three hits and no runs to pick up his first win of the season.
Relievers Reid Price and Lee Carter also saw some action while Saturday starter Eric Brandon pitched the final two innings.
Jaguar pitcher Bert Heath took the loss in the game to fall to 3-2 on the season but this was a well-pitched game by South Alabama as well. Nine Jaguar pitchers held the Tigers to just four hits in the game. Auburn did not have a hit after the fourth inning.
Javon Moran led the way with a pair of singles while Scott Schade added a single. The other hit staked Auburn to a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
With the wind blowing dead out to right field, designated hitter Bobby Huddleston came to the plate just hoping to swing without pain. A scratch from Tuesday night's lineup against Mercer because of a bruise to his side, Huddleston decided on Wednesday that he could play. That was goodnews for Auburn as he got a pitch to hit and drove it deep to right field. Riding the wind, the ball just carried over the wall for his fourth home run of the season to give Auburn the 1-0 lead.
While Mueller continued to stymie the South Alabama hitters, Auburn couldn't get anything going at the plate either. It wasn't until the seventh inning that the Tigers would finally get some runs on the board, but it would be the unconventional way.
Left fielder Sean Gamble led off the inning and was hit by a pitch. Tug Hulett followed and, attempting to sacrifice Gamble over with a bunt, reached first on an error by the pitcher as he threw the ballinto center field trying to nail Gamble at second. Chuck Jeroloman was up next and bunting as well, he reached when the Jaguar first baseman threw to third instead of first. That left the bases loaded with nobody out and Moran coming to the plate.
The only consistent hitter on the night, Moran earned a walk to push across Gamble with the first run of the inning. Jonathan Schuerholz was up next and he hit a weak one-hopper right back to the mound. Fielding the ball cleanly, the pitcher threw to the plate only to miss his mark. The ball went to the backstop allowing both Hulett and Jeroloman to score and Moran and Schuerholz to move up to third and second.
Doug Vines followed by grounding out to the second baseman to easily score Moran from third. The final run of the inning would cross as Huddleston lifted a fly ball to deep right field that easily plated Schuerholz from third. Without a hit the Tigers scored five runs and led 6-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh.
The Jaguars would score a single run off Price in the seventh but that would be all as Brandon came on to close the door on the game and preserve the 6-1 win. However, not before Auburn would help with a little South Alabama baseball history. In the top of the ninth inning, Auburn had runners on first and second with nobody out and Schade at the plate. Putting on a hit-and-run, both runners took off and Schade hit a liner right at the right fielder. He camly threw to second for the second out of the inning and then the relay went to first to beat a sliding Pratt back to the bag for a triple play. It was the first in Jaguar history, but it wouldn't be enough to propel them to a win Wednesday night.
Auburn returns to action Friday at 6:30 p.m. when they face the LSU Tigers in the first of three games at Plainsman Park. Saturday the game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start and will follow the A-Day football game which begins at 1 p.m. inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Sunday's first pitch is set for 1:30 p.m.