Auburn, Ala.--Auburn took advantage of six Purdue errors to blast the Boilermakers 12-6 Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park and earn a sweep over the Big 10 school.
The Tigers improve to 17-2 on the season, their best start since 1999, as sophomore pitcher Evan Crawford earned his third win of the season on his best performance to date in 2007. Coach Tommy Slater says it was good to see his left-hander have an outing like Sunday's performance when he gave up just four hits and one earned run in five and one/third innings.
"I was pleased," Slater says. "I thought Evan threw the ball better today. He had all three pitches working, which was nice to see. His cut fastball was good and his change-up was pretty good. It was nice to see him mix in some other pitches a little bit. I thought Evan was better today. That was good to see."
Sunday was a day of aggression for the Auburn Tigers on offense as they put the pressure on the Boilermakers by running at every opportunity and putting down bunts when necessary. Despite getting just 13 hits, the Tigers scored 12 runs thanks to five stolen bases. Ben Jones, Mike Bianucci and Robert Brooks all had two hits each with Brooks adding two of the stolen bases and two RBI. Slater says it was a good day for his team just doing the little things it takes to score runs.
"Up and down the lineup, I thought we did a nice job of playing offense," Slater says. "We stole some bases today and pressured them. They did make some errors but it was caused by the pressure we exerted on them in the short game."
Auburn quickly jumped on the visitors in the first as Purdue starter Tony Sedlymeyer struggled to get the Tigers out early. Center fielder Luke Greinke singled to center field and moved to second an a throwing error by Sedlmeyer. He then moved to third on a perfect bunt by Jones to bring Josh Donaldson to the plate. Doing his job, Donaldson lifted a fly ball to right field to drive in Greinke with the game's first run. Left fielder Mike Bianucci was hit by a pitch to bring Brooks to the plate.
The freshman continued his solid play with a single that easily scored Jones to put Auburn up two. Andy Bennett then finished off the scoring with a ground ball to the right side that scored Donaldson. After getting staked to three runs in the first inning, Crawford gave up a run in the top of the second and was fortunate it wasn't a whole lot more. With one out Alex Jaffee singled to get the inning started and bring Jon Moore to the plate. Hitting a perfect one-hopper to Crawford on the mound, it appeared Moore would hit into an inning-ending double play but Crawford's throw to second base went into center field.
The error allowed everyone to be safe and gave the Boilermakers some momentum. A fly ball for the second out of the inning was good news for the Tigers but a walk loaded the bases for leadoff man Jordan Comadena. His single got Purdue on the board with leading hitter Spencer Ingaldson coming to the plate. Getting behind 2-0 to the catcher, Crawford got a foul out to Bennett at first to end the inning and the Boilermaker threat. It was the last serious trouble for Crawford until he left the game in the sixth. He says it was nice to pitch well once again.
"It was better than it has been," Crawford says. "I was starting to get comfortable. In the first inning the defense made all three outs. I was just trying to throw it over the plate because lately I haven't even been able to do that. To get comfortable, let the defense do the work, and throw it over the plate, that's how we play that game."
By that time Auburn had completely broken the game open thanks to a big six-run fourth inning that saw the Tigers get just two hits but take advantage of four Purdue errors. Leading things off, Ryan Stanley reached on a throwing error from the third baseman That was just a sign of things to come for Purdue in this inning as freshman third baseman Joseph Sanders was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with nobody out.
The second error of the inning came as Eric Skinner's ground ball was thrown away. The error allowed Stanley to score from second and left runners again on second and third with nobody out. Purdue finally got the first out of the inning on a Greinke ground ball to second base. That made the score 5-0 and before things were done the Tigers would add four more in the fourth. One of the hits came from Brooks with a single that scored Mike Bianucci after he had also reached on an error. Brooks quickly stole second and advanced to third on an error by the catcher. Bennett followed with a single to center field that scored Brooks to make it 9-1 Tigers heading to the fifth.
Josh Donaldson dances across the plate just ahead of the tag from the Purdue catcher.
Crawford had another strong fifth and Auburn would add an insurance run in the bottom of the inning as back-to-back singles by Sanders and Skinner were followed by back-to-back fly balls from Greinke and Jones to push across run number 10. Crawford finally gave out in the top of the sixth as he hit Carlos Pupo with a pitch to start the inning with Dan Black following with a single to put a runner into scoring position. A ground ball to Skinner at short cut down Black at second for the first out of the inning but a wild pitch allowed Pupo to score before Crawford would exit with a 10-2 lead and Thompson would clean up the mess without allowing another base runner.
Things would stay that way until the top of the eighth when Purdue touched up Auburn reliever Chris Dennis for three runs. It all started with a runner on second and two outs in the inning. A single by John Cummins to center field pushed across the first run of the inning and a Greinke error allowed him to advance to second. An Alex Preston double then scored Cummins with Preston later scoring on a Comadena single to cut Auburn's lead down to 10-5 heading to the bottom of the inning.
That's when the Tigers would put the finishing touches on the victory. Leading off, Bianucci drilled a shot off the scoreboard in left for his sixth home run of the season. The blast pushed Auburn's lead back to six and it would increase to seven. Entering the game for Stanley, Josh Stapleton singled and quickly stole second to give Phillip Stringer a chance to drive him in. He did just that with a single to make it 12-5 Auburn heading to the ninth. Purdue would add a run off reliever Scott Shuman but it was way too little, too late as Auburn swept the Boilermakers with a 12-6 win on Sunday.
The Tigers have two midweek games this week with VMI coming to Plainsman Park for a two-game series on Tuesday night and Wednesday night. Both games are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with freshmen Taylor Thompson and Austin Hubbard getting the starts for the Tigers.