Tigers Pound the Cats Again

Auburn beat Kentucky 13-6 on Friday to improve to 31-24 overall and 10-19 in SEC play. The Wildcats, fighting for a berth in the SEC Tournament, dropped to 33-19-1 and 12-16-1 in league play.

Lexington, Ky.--Auburn pounded out 15 hits and capitalized on four Kentucky errors to beat the Wildcats 13-6 Friday night in Lexington. With SEC series being played Thursday-Saturday because of the upcoming SEC Tournament, Auburn's Friday victory comes on the heels of an 18-7 win the night before and guarantees a series win for the Tigers to end an up and down season that will in all likelihood end without any postseason appearance.

Freshman Taylor Thompson picked up the victory for Auburn, going five innings allowing four earned runs off six hits and five walks. The star of the day offensively was second baseman Robert Brooks. He went three of five with four runs batted in and two doubles. All four of his RBI came in the first two innings as the Tigers jumped up 8-2 early.

"The guys really took a nice approach to the plate," said Auburn head coach Tom Slater, "and we really did a nice job on (Kentucky starting pitcher) Andrew Albers to start the game. We started where we left off last night, scoring three in the first and came back with a five spot in the second."

Brooks wasn't the only Auburn batter who got the job done. Luke Greinke also had three hits and the entire Auburn lineup had at least one.

"Guys did a good job up and down the lineup," Slater noted. "With a big lead late some guys were trying to drive some balls kind of got away from our approach. You saw a couple of pop-ups late but for the most part up and down the lineup we were good all evening."

After crossing the plate 18 times Thursday night the Tigers came out on fire on Friday. Greinke got a one out hit and Mike Bianucci singled to center with two outs to put runners at first and second for Andy Bennett. The senior first baseman continued his timely hitting with a shot to center that got past Antone DeJesus and rolled all the way to the wall. It was ruled a single and a two-base error as Bennett wound up on third before Brooks singled him home to give the Tigers an early advantage.

With a three-run lead to work with Thompson struggled to get the ball over the plate in the first inning. After a single by DeJesus and a walk by Brian Spear, a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with one out. Getting pitches to hit, Sean Coughlin and Ryan Wilkes responded with a pair of singles on 3-1 counts to pull to within a run, but Thompson was able to strike out Tyler Howe to strand a runner at third and maintain a 3-2 lead after one.

The Tigers continued their good fortune at the plate in the second inning with a single by Ryan Jenkins, who got the start at catcher, and a full count walk by Phillip Stringer. On a bunt by Bruce Edwards the Wildcats committed another error that scored Jenkins and allowed Stringer to get to third. Josh Donaldson had a sacrifice fly to score Stringer and then Bianucci was intentionally walked to put the double play in order with one out, but Bennett was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Brooks. The freshman second baseman again came through at the plate with a bases-clearing double into the left field corner to stretch the lead to 8-2 and end the evening for Albers.

Albers dropped to 6-5 with the loss.

Thompson sent the Cats down one, two, three in the bottom of the inning and Kentucky managed to get out of the third unscathed after a Bianucci fly was caught at the warning track for out three with two runners on. With Auburn leading 8-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Thompson's control problems almost got him in trouble again. DeJesus singled home Howe, who had reached on a walk, and another walk to Spear loaded the bases but Sawyer Carroll grounded out to Bennett for out No. 3.

"The five walks in five innings is certainly something we don't want to see," Slater said of his starting pitcher. "We need Taylor to be more in the strike zone with only 58 strikes out of 100 pitches. He's a young kid with a great arm and he's tough. When he needed to make a pitch tonight to get himself out of trouble he did a nice job."

Up 8-3 the Tigers weren't content with a five-run advantage as they blew the game open with three more in the fifth. Jenkins got it started with a walk and another UK error let it get further out of hand. On what should have been a double play, the catcher Coughlin tried to throw Jenkins out at second but threw it into center field also allowing Stringer to reach base. With the top of the order up, Edwards hit it back to pitcher Dewayne Oxford but no one covered first. Greinke lined one to right center to score two and Donaldson picked up another sac fly to score Edwards. Bianucci walked again, which marked the end of the night for Oxford. Tommy Warner came in for a lefty vs. lefty matchup against Bennett and he was able to get a ground out before being lifted for Clint Tilford. Brooks, again with an opportunity to hit home some runners, drove the first pitch from Tilford to right field but the Auburn rally was again killed with a fly out to the warning track. However, the Tigers were halfway home with an 11-3 lead.

Coughlin walked to start the bottom half of the fifth and came around to score on a fielder's choice off the bat of Howe. Donaldson extended the lead back to eight at 12-4 with a solo shot over the left-center field wall, his 11th home run of the season, in the seventh but the Wildcats struck back with a run of their own. With Johnny Thompson in relief of Taylor Thompson, another Kentucky walked batter--Mike Brown--came around to score to cut in at 12-5. Brooks led off the eighth for the Tigers with his second double of the night and scored on a Jenkins single. With two outs and two on Greinke hit a sharp shot to left but Keenan Wiley laid out and robbed him on the track ending the Tigers' scoring threat. Kentucky added one more run in the eighth for the final score of 13-6.

Bryan Woodall, who is 2-2 with a 4.59 ERA, will get the start on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for noon Central time.

"He's given us two very good outings," Slater said of Woodall. "The Sunday at Mississippi State was outstanding and I believe he left that game with a lead. This past Sunday against Vanderbilt that was another game he threw very, very well. I don't believe he got a decision in either one of those but he really threw the ball well both times out."

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