Tigers Drop Pitchers' Duel, 2-1

A day after exploding at the plate, Auburn hitters couldn't figure out Ole Miss starter Pete Montrenes until it was too late.

Oxford, Miss.--The much talked about pitching duel between Auburn's Levale Speigner and Ole Miss's Pete Montrenes came to fruition Saturday as the Rebels squeaked out a 2-1 win to even the weekend series at one game each.

Montrenes moves to 8-2 on the season as he allowed just six hits and one run in eight and one/third innings while Speigner falls to 6-4 despite allowing just four hits over six and one/third innings.

Despite looking anemic at the plate for much of the afternoon, the Tigers made a late run at the Rebels only to fall just short. Trailing 2-0 as the game went to the ninth inning, Auburn sent the middle of the order to the plate for one last attempt at Montrenes. Things looked good as Javon Moran led off the inning with a single and quickly advanced to second base on a balk. That brought designated hitter Bobby Huddleston to the plate. Quickly falling behind 0-2, he worked the count back to even before driving one into the right-center field gap. Getting a good jump on the ball, Rebel Seth Smith dove and snared the ball in mid-air before landing on the ground, robbing Huddleston of extra-bases.

Scott Schade was up next and he continued his clutch hitting by lining one down the left field line for a double that scored Moran from second cutting the Rebel lead to 2-1.

That would bring Montrenes' day to an end as Ole Miss turned to reliever T.J. Beam to close the door. But, he would have to face Doug Vines and Trent Pratt with a runner in scoring position first. Vines, sitting on a fastball, lined one into left field but directly at a Rebel fielder for the second out of the inning. In almost a mirror image of Vines, Pratt got a good pitch and drilled it directly at Smith for the final out of the game.

Much of this game was about the domination of Montrenes on the mound. Completely shutting down the Tigers for most of the game, the senior and former Southern California pitcher had a wicked breaking ball working the entire day that kept the Auburn batters off balance. Allowing just four hits and no runs, he offset the performance of Speigner just enough to allow his teammates to squeak out the win with just a couple of runs off Speigner.

Both pitchers were nearly perfect through two innings as the Rebels were able to scratch out just one single until they used a well-timed hit in the third inning to put the first run on the board. With one out and nobody on base, eighth-place hitter Jonathan Swearingen worked a walk from Speigner bringing Charlie Waite to the plate. He couldn't deliver though as he flew out to Moran in center field for the second out of the inning. Trying to get into scoring position, Swearingen stole second base and scored just moments later when Clint Farrar singled to left field just out of the reach of a diving Jonathan Schuerholz. Trailing 1-0 the Tigers were hoping to get to Montrenes. but it wasn't to be.

They would challenge in the fourth as Moran got a two-out single and Huddleston followed by earning a base on balls to give the Tigers runners on first and second with two outs. With Schade at the plate Auburn hoped to get a two-out rally going, but Montrenes got the ball in on the hands of Schade forcing a groundout to end the inning with Auburn still searching for its first run.

While they were struggling to get anything off Montrenes, the Tigers were able to depend on Speigner on the mound to keep them in the game. The junior from Thomasville, Ga., while not in complete command of his pitching arsenal, battled from the first inning until he left in the seventh inning in favor of Eric Brandon.

Still without a run to work with, Speigner came out in the seventh inning hoping to keep Ole Miss at bay. Chad Sterbens led off the inning with a double to left field, just beating the throw from Sean Gamble. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to third, Brandon came on hoping to get the strikeout and hopefully escape the inning. He didn't get that, but he coaxed a shallow fly ball to Gamble in left field off the bat of Josh Christian. Testing the freshman, Sterbens took off from third and was able to beat a poor throw and make it 2-0 Rebels after seven innings.

Moran and Schade, who had a single and double each, led Auburn at the plate. The only other Tigers to get a hit against Ole Miss pitching on Saturday were Vines and Pratt, who both scratched out singles. The Rebels were led at the plate by Smith with two hits, both singles.

The rubber match of the series will be Sunday afternoon as junior Mike Mueller takes the mound for the Tigers. With a record of 1-0 on the year with a 0.00 ERA in 11 and two/thirds innings pitched, the big right-hander will get just his third start of the season against freshman right-hander Alan Horne for the Rebels. Horne is 1-1 with an ERA of 5.91 in six starts. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

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