Tigers Complete Sweep With Late Rally Over Elon

Auburn moved to 12-3 on the season by completing a sweep of Elon.

Auburn, Ala.--Scoreless for the first six innings, 12th-ranked Auburn exploded for seven runs in its final two at-bats to defeat Elon 7-1 Sunday at Plainsman Park and complete the three-game sweep over the Phoenix.

Pitchers Colby Paxton, Levale Speigner and Steven Register combined to allow just one run on four hits as the Tigers moved to 12-3 on the season with the victory. The loss drops Elon to 7-6 overall.

Auburn earned the win despite a terrific pitching performance from Elon starter Tyson Blocker. Coming into Sunday's game with an earned run average 6.75, Blocker allowed just two runs on six hits and kept the Tigers off the scoreboard until the seventh inning. Following the game Auburn Coach Steve Renfroe was very impressed by what he saw out of the Elon pitcher and by the toughness his team showed in answering the challenge from the Phoenix.

"I would take their starting pitcher on any staff," Renfroe said. "I think he could pitch for anybody in the SEC. I loved him. He can really pitch. I was proud because our guys threw well. Colby threw well and he was on a pitch count because it was cold and we weren't going to extend it. I hated it because I really wanted to get him through the fifth, but his future is a lot more important than just an out or saying he threw five innings for a win.

"Levale was good and Steven was good and our defense again just kept us right there with a chance late. I think that's how we're going to have to play."

Scott Schade had a big RBI double in Sunday's win.

Shut down by Blocker for the first 6 2/3 innings, with just three hits in that span, Auburn finally got to the big right-hander in the seventh inning. With two outs and nobody on, Tug Hulett singled to left field to bring the hot-hitting Scott Schade to the plate. Getting a fastball, the junior third baseman drilled a double into the left-center field gap to score Hulett from first and bring the crowd to life.

Perhaps Auburn's toughest out, Chuck Jeroloman came to the plate and punched a single just over the first baseman's head to score Schade and make it 2-1 Tigers. Following a walk to leadoff hitter Clete Thomas, Sean Gamble grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning but not before the Tigers took the lead and turned the ball over to closer Steven Register.

"He threw real well today," Schade said of Blocker. "He mixed it up and we made some minor adjustments at the plate and we couldn't figure it out, but we got them late. That was big on our part. We were kind of down in the first couple of innings and they were playing well. We finally got something started and rolled from there."

That was exactly the case for Auburn in the eighth inning. With Register coming in and sitting down the Phoenix in the top of the inning, the Tigers came out smoking and put the game away by scoring five runs.

Leading off the inning, Javon Moran singled up the middle to put the pressure on Elon reliever Luke Pangle. After advancing to second on a passed ball, he was joined on the base paths by first baseman Josh Todd, who walked to signal the end of the day for Pangle. New pitcher Brian Hensen didn't fare any better as Moran and Todd completed a double steal to put two runners in scoring position for senior Bobby Huddleston.

Waiting on a good pitch to hit that never came, Huddleston walked to load the bases for freshman Josh Bell. Pushing a 0-1 pitch down the first base line, Bell drove home two runs when his slow roller went just beyond the reach of first baseman Chris Price for a double into right field. Hulett followed with almost an instant replay to score both Huddleston and Bell to make it 6-1 Auburn.

A Schade bloop single to right field moved Hulett to third setting the table for Jeroloman. The best bunter on the Auburn team by a long shot, the sophomore shortstop put down a perfect safety squeeze to score Hulett and give the Tigers a commanding 7-1 lead.

Steven Register picked up his seventh save of the season on Sunday.

That is all the Tigers would need as Register came on to close the door in the ninth and record his seventh save of the season in just 15 games. The total is already good enough for seventh on Auburn's single season save list and is 12 shy of Finley Woodward's record of 19 set in 1995. For the week Register had three saves and gave up just two hits in six innings while striking out 10 batters. Opponents hit just .105 for the week against the hard-throwing right-hander.

Elon got on the board in the fifth inning by manufacturing a run the old fashioned way. Mike Hromadka singled to right field on a full count pitch to get things going for the Phoenix. Playing for one run at a time, Holt Montgomery bunted Hromadka to second to bring Paul Bennett to the plate. Bennett didn't come through as he hit a sharp grounded to Hulett at second to move the runner to third with two outs.

Still recovering from a sore arm, Paxton gave way to Speigner to try to end the Elon threat. It wouldn't be a good start for the senior as he gave up a double to number nine hitter Robbie Smith on a 2-1 fastball to score Hromadka from third and make it 1-0 Phoenix.

Things stayed that way thanks to some solid pitching by Paxton. Giving up just three hits and one run in 4 2/3 innings, he gave the Tigers a chance to come back and pick up the victory. For the weekend Auburn's pitching was nothing less than extraordinary. In 27 innings against Elon, the Tigers allowed just 16 hits and had 26 strikeouts with an ERA of 1.00. The Phoenix hitters batted just .170 for the weekend against Auburn and scored just three runs.

Auburn returns to action Tuesday night when they face Samford in Birmingham. The game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the Tigers will likely pitch several different combinations with a trip to North Carolina scheduled for the weekend.

"This week was huge for us," Schade said. "Elon is a good team and to get three wins against those guys is huge. They play well and always knock off top teams. They've beaten Wake Forest already this year and last year they knocked off some guys. It's good to get three from them."

Elon 1 (7-6)

Player AB R H BI
Evan Tartaglia cf 4 0 0 0
Brian Ingram ss 4 0 1 0
Chris Price 1b 4 0 0 0
Barry Tejeda c 4 0 0 0
George Brandner dh 3 0 0 0
Mike Hromadka lf 3 1 2 0
Holt Montgomery rf 2 0 0 0
Paul Bennett 2b 3 0 0 0
Gary Morris 2b 0 0 0 0
Robbie Smith 3b 3 0 1 1
Tyson Blocker p 0 0 0 0
Luke Pangle p 0 0 0 0
Brian Hensen p 0 0 0 0
Totals...... 30 1 4 1

Auburn 7 (12-3)

Player AB R H BI
Clete Thomas rf 4 0 2 0
Sean Gamble lf 4 0 0 0
Javon Moran cf 4 1 1 0
Karl Amonite 1b 3 0 0 0
Josh Todd 1b 0 1 0 0
Bobby Huddleston c 2 1 0 0
Josh Bell dh 4 1 2 2
Tug Hulett 2b 4 2 2 2
Scott Schade 3b 4 1 2 1
Chuck Jeroloman ss 3 0 1 2
Colby Paxton p 0 0 0 0
Levale Speigner p 0 0 0 0
Steven Register p 0 0 0 0
Totals...... 32 7 10 7

Score by Innings R H E
Elon................ 000 010 000 - 1 4 2
Auburn.............. 000 000 25X - 7 10 0

E - C. PRICE(1); P. BENNETT(4). DP - ELON 1. LOB - ELON 3; AU 7. 2B - R. SMITH(2); Bell(6); Hulett(3); Schade(4). SH - H.MONTGOMERY(1); Jeroloman(1). SB - Moran(6); Todd(1); Jeroloman(2). CS - Thomas(3); Amonite(1).

Tyson Blocker L,1-2 6.2 6 2 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 25 27 8 10 93
Luke Pangle 0.1 1 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 0 1 15
Brian Hensen 1.0 3 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 5 7 0 2 25

Colby Paxton 4.2 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 16 17 5 9 63
Levale Speigner W,4-0 2.1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 8 4 3 33
Steven Register S,7 2.0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 6 6 1 1 24

PB - B. TEJEDA(4). Inherited runners/scored: L. PANGLE 1/0; B. HENSEN 2/2; Speigner, L. 1/1. Pitches/strikes: T. BLOCKER 93/52; L. PANGLE 15/5; B. HENSEN 25/14; Paxton 63/40; Speigner, L. 33/22; Register 24/16. Strikeouts - E. TARTAGLIA; B. INGRAM; B. TEJEDA; R. SMITH; Thomas; Huddleston. Walks - Thomas; Gamble; Todd; Huddleston 2.

Umpires - HP: Arthur Schmidt 1B: Danny Everett 3B: Eric Johansen

Start: 1:30 Time: 2:27 Attendance: 2213

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