The Baseball Tigers Strike Back

Another record crowd at Plainsman Park was treated to a much better performance on Saturday by the home team.

Auburn, Ala.--In front of the second-straight record crowd at Plainsman Park, the 20th-ranked Auburn Tigers (24-9, 6-5) defeated the LSU Tigers (19-13, 4-6) by the score of 11-3 Saturday thanks to the strong pitching of Colby Paxton and solid hitting up and down the lineup.

With 4,715 sun-soaked fans looking on, all but two Auburn starters got a hit as they totaled 13 on the day, including three each from Bobby Huddleston and Tug Hulett, to even up the series as they head to Sunday.

Pitching six complete innings, allowing nine hits and three runs while striking out four, Paxton improved his record to 7-2. While he struggled at times early in the game, he kept the visiting Tigers off the scoreboard and allowed his team to come through with some much-needed offense in the clutch.

Colby Paxton was the winning pitcher for the Tigers on Saturday.

"It was good to be out here," Paxton said. "This was the best crowd I have seen out here. It was big to have everybody behind us because we needed a win today…I was okay. I battled but I never really had an easy inning. They're good hitters. They like the fastball and I'm a fastball pitcher. The guys played good defense behind me and coach called a good game."

The Tigers also got a solid relief outing from true freshman Arnold Hughey. The lefty pitched three innings and gave up just one hit while striking out three. He earned his first save of the season.

Starter Bo Pettit took the loss for the Tigers. In two innings of work he allowed just one hit but three runs and couldn't seem to find the strike zone as he walked five Auburn batters. Pettit falls to 3-5 on the year.

Early on the game looked like a repeat of Friday night as LSU jumped ahead thanks to a home run off the bat of shortstop Aaron Hill. However, Auburn would answer back and keep the crowd into the game, something that became an important factor as the day went along.

In the second Scott Schade walked to lead off the inning and Doug Vines repeated that to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Hulett followed with a perfect sacrifice bunt that Pettit fielded but threw down the right field line allowing Schade to score and Vines and Hulett to move the third and second.

Freshman Sean Gamble was due up next and he continued his hot hitting, singling to right field to score Vines. Freshman shortstop Chuck Jeroloman then hit into a fielder's choice to score Hulett with the final run of the inning and Auburn led 3-1.

"I've been struggling the last few weeks," Hulett said. "I got a little duck fart last night and sometimes it takes those kinds of things to get you back towards the zone or the groove or whatever it takes…it feels good. I don't think we've really been struggling, we just haven't had the timely hits. Tonight we got the timely hits and we put them back to back. To make teams make plays day in and day out, it kind of wears on them. With our defense and our pitching, as long as we get some runs up we'll be fine."

Tug Hulett

With Paxton still rolling along, the Tigers stretched the lead in the fourth and once again Gamble was the culprit. Leading off the inning, he singled to left. Jeroloman followed with his 15th sacrifice bunt of the year, only six away from the school record. Moran then singled through the right side to score Gamble and the Tigers were up 4-1.

After Gamble stole second, Jonathan Schuerholz walked for one of his four times on the day to set things up for Huddleston. Pounding one into the ground, Huddleston beat out an infield single to load the bases for Mike Mueller. Lifting one into right field deep enough to score Moran, Mueller was greeted with high fives by his teammates as Auburn pulled ahead by the score of 5-1 with the sacrifice fly.

If there were any questions about this game, they were answered in the sixth as the Tigers pounced on LSU pitchers for six runs, including a home run. That came quickly as Moran led off the inning with a solo shot over the right field wall, his second of the season. Another Schuerholz walk followed and he easily swiped second base to put Huddleston in a position to drive him in. He singled to right field off the wall, but because he had to hold in case of a tag Schuerholz wasn't able to score. That left Auburn with runners on first and third with nobody out.

One out later, Schade singled through the left side to score Schuerholz. Vines followed with a shot that just hopped over the head of LSU second baseman J.C. Holt and allowed Huddleston to score and Schade to advance to third. Hulett followed with a double to left that scored both runners and an error by the left fielder gave him third base. A Gamble sacrifice fly closed the books on the inning, but not before the Tigers led 11-1.

LSU would add two runs in the seventh inning but Hughey, in for Paxton, would close the door on the Tigers for Auburn's sixth win in conference play. On Sunday Eric Brandon (3-1) gets the start for Auburn against Jason Vargas (1-1) for LSU. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

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