Strong Pitching As AU Evens Series With Dores

Auburn evened the series with Vanderbilt with a 5-3 victory on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Looking for a strong pitching performance, Auburn got just what the doctor ordered on Saturday as freshman Jon Luke Jacobs allowed three runs in six and two/thirds innings and relievers Bradley Hendrix and Austin Hubbard shut the door as the Tigers beat Vanderbilt 5-3 to even the series with the Commodores.

The win moves Auburn to 17-9, 3-5 in SEC play, while Vandy falls to 17-9, 3-5.

Following a very disappointing performance on Friday night when the Tigers fell apart in loss with sloppy play, Auburn responded with one of its cleanest games of the season on Saturday. Auburn didn't commit an error, walked three, and got two-run homers from Brian Fletcher and Ben Jones to get the much-needed win. Coach John Pawlowski said it was without question a big victory for his team.

"I thought it was very important, especially after last night," he said. "We didn't play very well last night. I told our guys that it was important today to get back even, to get to square one. Which means we've got to go out and play better baseball and execute.

"It all started with Jon Luke Jacobs," he added. "He went out there and established the zone early in the game. He did a great job for us. I thought that was the difference today."

Pawlowski argues a call during Saturday's win.

Earning his third win of the season against zero defeats, Jacobs was solid for the Tigers on Saturday. Throwing 113 pitches, Jacobs walked just two while striking out six. He said that while he wasn't at his best, he managed to get the job done well enough to earn the win.

"In my opinion I didn't have my best pitch today," Jacobs said. "I didn't have my change-up today, but I was able to locate my fastball and get my curveball going and fill up the zone. They are a great hitting ball club as you saw last night, but if you go in there and fill up the zone then you've always got a chance to win."

At the plate Jones and Fletcher both had two hits, including the home runs that ended up being the difference. Jones said for the Tigers, Saturday was a huge game to win because it gives them a chance to win the series at home and get back in the SEC race.

"It's big to come out here and get a win," Jacobs said. "It was disappointing last night. We had a tough game. I thought we did a good job of regrouping and coming out here and getting the job done today."

The Commodores struck first on Saturday as they scratched out a run in the top of the second off Jacobs. One of the old baseball rules is you don't walk the leadoff man, but that's exactly what happened as Curt Casali walked to start the second and with one out a single by Andrew Giobbi followed by a two-out double off the bat of Jason Esposito put Vandy up 1-0.

Auburn would answer back in the bottom of the second though. With one out Jones walked in front of Fletcher. That proved to be huge as Fletcher went with an outside pitch and drove it over the right field wall for a two-run shot. Fletcher's seventh home run put the Tigers in front, but it would last long.

With one out in the third Brian Harris singled and moved all the way around to third on a double by Riley Reynolds. A walk to Steven Liddle loaded the bases, but Jacobs got a fly ball that scored a run and a ground ball to end the inning with minimal damage. The sacrifice fly from Casali did tie the score at 2-2, but once again Auburn would respond.

Following a Justin Hargett groundout, Trent Mummey was hit by a Cotham pitch to give the Tigers some life. A steal of second got the sophomore into scoring position during a Joseph Sanders strikeout, putting Hunter Morris into position to drive him home. Facing a shift with the shortstop on the right side of the second base bag and the second baseman playing shallow left field, Morris slapped a single through the hole on the left side to score Mummey and give Auburn a 3-2 advantage.

That's how things would remain until the bottom of the sixth when the Tigers would again strike with the long ball. With two outs and nobody on, catcher Tony Caldwell laced a double into right field. That brought Jones to the plate. Getting a pitch to drive, Jones hit a long home run to right field into the wind. The blast was Jones' fifth of the season and gave Auburn a 5-2 lead.

Now over the 100-pitch mark, Jacobs lasted two outs into the seventh before a double off the bat of Riley Reynolds brought his day to a close. Hendrix came on in relief and promptly gave up a single to Steven Liddle that scored Reynolds to cut Auburn's lead down to two.

In the eighth Hendrix faced some trouble as one-out singles by Aaron Westlake and Giobbi gave the Commodores a shot to cut into Auburn's lead. That's when Hendrix got tough. The sophomore from Birmingham came back to strike out Joe Loftus and Phil Esposito to end the threat with the Tigers still up 5-3. Vandy got two runners on in the ninth, but Hubbard struck out Casali to end the game and earn his fourth save of the season.

Auburn and Vandy play the final game of the series at 1 p.m. on Sunday with the Tigers still listed as TBA on the mound. Vandy will throw right-hander Nick Christiani.

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