"I thought we did a lot of positive things," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "Looking at the pitching side of it, the positive is that this past weekend Grant Dayton and Cory Luckie going complete games so we didn't get to use a lot of guys out of our bullpen. It was good to see guys like Sean Ray and Michael Hurst and (Austin) Hubbard get a chance to get in there and not only get their work in, but do a good job.
"Obviously we swung the bat today," he added. "Hunter Morris had an outstanding game. I thought he squared up every ball that he hit today, even the ball he made an out on. There were some real positive things to take from today's ballgame."
At the plate Morris was the hitting star on a night when the Tigers pounded Troy from start to finish. Scoring two or more runs in five different innings, Auburn totaled 18 hits with eight going for extra bases. Morris said for him it was a matter of just relaxing at the plate and trusting his swing.
"I was seeing the ball well from the first pitch of the game," Morris said. "I was trying to get in the box and relax a little bit and trust my hands and let them work. I could feel myself getting a little tense in my upper body and trying to get too strong this weekend against some guys with some good arms. Vandy has a great pitching staff and I tried to match my power with their power. Tonight I just tried to come out and relax and trust what my hands were doing and it worked out very well."
On the mound Cole Nelson got the win to improve to 5-3 on the season, allowing just two hits and no runs in two innings. Slade Smith, Hurst, Ray, Bradley Hendrix, Stephen Kohlscheen and Hubbard finished off the game in solid fashion to get the win. It was the second consecutive mid-week game that Auburn employed that strategy and it has worked well for the Tigers. Well enough in fact that Pawlowski said they're looking long and hard at doing it on the weekend.
"We've looked at the results and we've done a good job of matching up with guys," Pawlowski said. "When their lefties come up we've got a lefty or two in the bullpen. It has been successful. We don't know what we're going to do yet this weekend, but it certainly gives us another option if Cory can do some positive things on Friday night and lengthen him out. It gives us some options on Saturday."
Auburn wasted little time jumping on the Trojans in the bottom of the first inning as right fielder Justin Fradejas reached on a bunt single to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. A walk to Trent Mummey followed, but Auburn appeared to run itself out of an inning as Fradejas was caught trying to steal third for the first out.
Just one pitch later though Auburn wound up with runners on second and third with one out as Brian Fletcher's fly ball to right field was dropped to bring Morris to the plate with a pair of runners in scoring position. Getting a pitch to turn on, the junior doubled to right field to score both and put Auburn up 2-0. Following a Dan Gamache strikeout, shortstop Casey McElroy singled to center field to give Nelson a three-run cushion.
Troy got something going on offense in the second with a pair of singles to start with and eventually loaded the bases with just one out. Bearing down on the mound, Nelson came back to strike out Steven Rosado looking and Chad Watson swinging to keep Auburn's lead at three.
One swing of the bat would change that in the fourth. With one out in the bottom half of the inning, designated hitter Kevin Patterson lifted a fly ball deep to right field that cleared the K Corner for his eighth home run and seventh solo shot of the season. Auburn wasn't finished though as a walk to Ryan Jenkins, a single from Justin Hargett, and another bunt single by Fradejas loaded the bases for the heart of the Auburn order.
It would take a mistake for the Tigers to get another run this inning though as a Mummey ground ball was thrown to the plate to retire Jenkins for the second out. That brought Fletcher to the plate looking to break the game open. Instead he quickly fell behind 0-2 before Troy tried to come inside with a fastball. The pitch rode in on the junior and hit him with a glancing blow in the head. Hargett scored on the play to make it 5-0 Auburn. Morris looked to give the Tigers even more of a cushion, but his screaming liner to left field was caught to end the inning.
Fletcher is congratulated following his three-run home run.
With Smith, Hurst and Ray getting the Tigers through six, the offense exploded to put the game out of reach in the bottom of that inning. Another bunt single, this one from Hargett, got things going for Auburn. Following a sacrifice bunt, Mummey walked to bring Fletcher to the plate. Moving up a base on a wild pitch, both runners were able to score walking as Fletcher homered deep to left field for his 13th of the season.
Not to be outdone, Morris added a solo shot to his two doubles to make it 9-0. It was his 12th home run of the season to add to Auburn's cushion. Before the inning was done a Patterson double and a single from Jenkins had pushed the Tigers' advantage to 11-0.
Troy finally got on the board in the seventh off Hendrix with a pair of two-out hits to score one run, but it only served to get the Tigers going again on offense as they added three more in the bottom of the inning. The big blow came from Morris as his two run shot gave him five RBI on the night to put Auburn up 14-1. Following a Troy run in the seventh, Hargett extended the lead to 15 with a two-run shot to left field, his second of the season. The Trojans added an unearned run in the ninth to make the final score 16-3 Auburn.
The Tigers return to action this weekend as they face the Kentucky Wildcats in a three-game series at Plainsman Park. Auburn enters with a record of 8-7 in conference play while Kentucky is 5-10. Luckie is expected to get the start for Auburn with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30 on Friday night.