Nelson Earns Third Win As Tigers Sweep Series

Auburn earned its first baseball series sweep since winning four against Brown on March 6-8 of last year as the Tigers defeated the Miami RedHawks 5-4 on Sunday.

Auburn, Ala.--Junior left-hander Cole Nelson didn't let a difficult week ruin his Sunday start as he pitched seven strong innings to earn his third win of the year as the Tigers defeated Miami of Ohito 5-4 to complete a sweep and improve to 9-2 on the season.

Back home in Minnesota on Monday to be with his ailing father, Nelson returned to Auburn on Friday afternoon and was back on the mound two days later after a short bullpen session once he arrived on the Plains.

Allowing two runs on seven hits and striking out eight, Nelson wasn't the dominant pitcher he was the first two weeks, but for Coach John Pawlowski he was more than good enough.

"When you look at the bottom linescore he goes seven innings with no walks and eight strikeouts," Pawlowski said. "He gave us a chance to win. It's pretty impressive considering what he's been through this week.

"I told him it was an outstanding outing for him and it picked our team up on championship Sunday," Pawlowski added. "When you look at the bottom line we found a way to win. I was impressed with how he was able to handle himself."

Without the benefit of his usual nasty slider on command, Nelson instead dug deep and got people out a variety of different ways. That included letting his defense work for him as Auburn made several nice plays in the field and finished without an error for the second-straight day.

"I've got a couple of places to look at now to improve," Nelson said. "I think it was kind of a good test of wills to go out there and see if I could do it and let my defense play the ball, which they did.

"Crede (Crede Simpson) had a couple of big ones, including one laying out that should be on Sportscenter," he added. "(Justin) Hargett had a couple of big plays and even Hunter had some big plays over at first. I let them put it on the ground and the defense came up big. No errors and a few big plays."

At the plate Auburn again pounded out the hits with 15, giving the Tigers 53 for the three-game series. After a four-hit effort on Saturday, first baseman Hunter Morris was a perfect 4-4 on Sunday with a home run and a pair of RBI. Simpson added three hits while Brian Fletcher and Tony Caldwell added two hits each.

For Morris it was the culmination of a big weekend as he came out a funk the first two weekends to get into a serious groove.

"I made some minor adjustments in my approach and my stance," Morris said. "Every bit of my swing I have kind of tweaked here or there. It looks like it's paying off. Hopefully, I can stay in a rhythm and keep seeing pitches well and not chasing balls out of the zone anymore."

Hunter Morris was 9-15 for the weekend despite a 1-6 night on Friday.

Nelson never seemed to get comfortable on the mound in his third Auburn pitching appearance and it started in the first as Adam Weisenburger's two-out solo home run broke up the shutout early. Back-to-back singles followed to put a runner into scoring position, but a flyout to center brought a shaky first inning to a close with Auburn down 1-0.

With one out in the bottom of the first Simpson singled to bring Morris to the plate. Coming off a five-hit game on Saturday, the junior picked up where he left off on Sunday as he took a pitch deep to right field for his second home run in as many days. That gave Auburn its first lead of the day 2-1.

In the second inning Auburn extended its lead thanks to one swing of the bat. Leading off, right fielder Caldwell lifted a fly ball to left field and off the brick façade surrounding the scoreboard. It was Caldwell's first homer of the year and put Auburn up 3-1.

Nelson escaped trouble in the third as a one-out strikeout of Brad Gschwind turned into near disaster as the ball got by catcher Ryan Jenkins allowing him to reach first. Following Weisenburger's second hit of the day, this one a single, another wild pitch moved both into scoring position. Reaching deep, Nelson struck out Jordan Jankowski before a ground ball to Morris at first brought the inning to a close.

The fourth inning wouldn't be as kind to Nelson as Cory Klenke singled and quickly moved to second on another wild pitch. Another single, this time off the bat of Ryan Klaup, scored Klenke to cut Auburn's advantage down to one.

A stolen base put Klaup into prime scoring position with nobody out, but a liner by Pat Glass was right at Morris at first base. He threw to second for the double play to end the threat and keep Auburn's lead at 3-2.

That's how things would remain until the bottom of the seventh inning as Nelson settled in for another solid start. Clinging to a one-run lead with one out, designated hitter Kevin Patterson ripped one into the right field corner and legged it out for a triple. Pinch-runner Justin Fradejas took his spot at third base with pinch-hitter Dan Gamache coming to the plate. Getting a pitch over the plate, Gamache stroked a triple into left-center to make it 4-2 Tigers.

Auburn wasn't done though as there was just one out, but a Hargett strikeout left it up to Simpson to put another run on the board. Playing the odds Miami brought in a right-hander to face Simpson, but the RedHawks must not have looked at a stat sheet. A single to right field brought Simpson's average against right-handers to .424 and put the Tigers up 5-2.

That was the end of the day for Nelson as Blatt came in to pitch in the eighth inning. Gschwind doubled to lead off in the inning and one out later Jankowski blasted his first career home run to center field to make it a 5-4 game, but that would be it for the RedHawks against the sophomore as he shut the door on the visitors the rest of the way to earn his first save.

The Tigers will travel to Montgomery on Tuesday to face Alabama in the Max Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame festivities beginning at 6:30.

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