Smith Shines As Tigers Pound Bulldogs

Auburn freshman Slade Smith allowed just one hit in six innings to earn his first win as the Tigers blasted visiting Alabama A&M 18-0.

Auburn, Ala.--Pitcher Slade Smith was outstanding in his first career start as the true freshman allowed just one hit in six innings to earn his first win and eight Auburn players combined for 15 hits with Dan Gamache's four-hit night leading the way as the Tigers pounded Alabama A&M 18-0 Wednesday night at Plainsman Park to take the two-game series against the Bulldogs. With the win Auburn improves to 11-5 on the season while Alabama A&M falls to 10-6. It was Auburn's first shutout since March 21 of 2008 against Kentucky.

The son of former Auburn football player Ted Smith, Smith took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before giving up a single. For the game he struck out eight and walked just one batter while throwing 78 total pitches. He said for him Wednesday night was a dream come true.

"It was big to show that the coaches have confidence enough in me to throw me out there in a start and to finally get the first one out of the way," Smith said. "Growing up an Auburn fan I always dreamed of starting. To get the first one is special. I just want to keep growing on it."

At the plate Auburn was aided by some erratic pitching from the Bulldogs as the Tigers drew 13 walks in addition to the 15 hits. Gamache, Kevin Patterson, and Patrick Savage all homered for Auburn in the win, a win that coach John Pawlowski said wrapped up a solid two-game homestand for his team heading into SEC play this weekend at Georgia.

"We talked about taking care of business," Pawlowski said. "Anytime you have mid-week games it's so important. I thought after the weekend we had it was important for our guys to get their confidence going again. I thought we pitched really well in the two games. We threw strikes and competed."

Settling in early Smith threw two scoreless innings before the Auburn offense finally got untracked as shortstop Casey McElroy ripped a single through the right side and moved to second base following a bunt single by Gamache. Attempting to sacrifice the runners over, second baseman Wes Gilmer instead reached on a bunt single of his own to load the bases with nobody out. Following a Patterson strikeout, catcher Ryan Jenkins laced a double to left field to score both runners and make it 2-0 Tigers. Auburn would eventually load the bases for the heart of the order but couldn't score again as Creede Simpson's flyout to right and a Hunter Morris pop up kept it at two.

The Tigers added to the lead in the fourth inning with three runs on just one base hit thanks to four walks. With two outs and nobody on, Alabama A&M pitcher Artie Clyde walked four consecutive Auburn hitters to force home a run for the 3-0 lead. McElroy then did some damage as his single scored both Simpson and Morris to give Auburn the 5-0 lead.

Already with three home runs on the year, Patterson had one of his best at-bats of the year to add number four in the bottom of the fifth. A walk to Gilmer brought the big junior to the plate where he got an outside pitch. Instead of trying to pull it to the right side, Patterson went with the pitch and deposited it over the left field wall for a two-run shot. The blast gave the Tigers a big 7-0 lead with Smith firmly in control.

With one out in the top of the sixth the Bulldogs finally got a hit off Smith as Norbert Riggins singled through the left side. It didn't phase the freshman though as he retired the final two batters to keep the seven-run lead safe and bring his night to a close with the big lead in safe hands.

A one-out double by McElroy was the start of another big inning for Auburn in the sixth and Gamache followed with a single to make it an eight-run lead. A double by Gilmer made it 9-0 and the scoring came to a close after Patterson reached on an error that allowed Gilmer to score all the way from second. The carnage continued in the seventh as Auburn added four more runs with the big blow the first career home run by Savage. Four more in the eighth, two coming on the Gamache home run, made the final score 18-0 as relievers Stephen Kohlscheen, Garrett Bush and Chris O'Neil pitched the final three innings in relief.

At the plate McElroy was a perfect 3-3 with two RBI while Gilmer and Patterson added two hits each. To demonstrate what kind of night it was, Simpson was 0-3 for the Tigers, but scored three runs in the win. Auburn's three highest hitters for average coming into the game that were healthy, Simpson, Morris and Caldwell, all failed to get a hit.

There was some good news for the Tigers after a rather gloomy start to the day again as injured outfielder Justin Fradejas played center field in the ninth inning for the first time since injuring his hand the opening weekend. Pawlowski had hoped to start Fradejas in right field with Caldwell moving back behind the plate, but emergency root canal surgery on Wednesday brought those plans to a crashing halt. Fradejas is expected to be ready to play this weekend.

The Tigers will return to action this weekend at Georgia to open SEC play. Sophomore Cory Luckie is expected to get the start for the 6 p.m. central time start on Friday with junior Cole Nelson going on Saturday and TBA for Sunday's game.

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