Baseball Tigers Complete Sweep Of Tar Heels

Clete Thomas led Auburn with five hits as they pounded North Carolina 13-5 to earn the series sweep over the Tar Heels.

Chapel Hill, N.C.--True freshman Josh Bell ignited an Auburn rally with a pinch-hit three-run home run in the fifth inning with the game tied to lead the Tigers to a sweep of North Carolina with a 13-5 win Sunday. Junior Colby Paxton had perhaps his finest outing of the season in picking up his second win by allowing just four runs on seven hits in seven innings and throwing just over 80 pitches. Another true freshman, Clete Thomas, was the offensive hero with a 5-5 day at the plate as Auburn pounded North Carolina pitching for 18 hits. The Tigers move to 16-3 on the season while the Tar Heels fall to 7-5 overall.

"It was just one of those days," Auburn Coach Steve Renfroe said. "We just got in their face and wouldn't let up. Our at-bats were really, really good and we threw our bodies around on defense and on the bases and Colby just went after them. It was a solid, solid baseball game for the Auburn Tigers."

The Tigers didn't waste any time getting on the board Sunday against the Tar Heels as Thomas singled to left field for the first of his five hits on the day bringing Sean Gamble to the plate. Trying to bunt Thomas over, Gamble put one in play that North Carolina starter Garry Bakker fielded and threw away to first. The wild throw moved Gamble to second and allowed Thomas to move all the way around and score to put the Tigers up 1-0 after a half inning of play.

Auburn would add to the lead in the second inning thanks once again to the bottom of the order. Starting at first base, sophomore Kyle Bohm singled to left field and designated hitter Doug Vines walked to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Continuing his hot hitting, shortstop Chuck Jeroloman singled to left field to score Bohm and push Vines to third. Moving up to second on the throw to the plate would be important for Jeroloman as Vines was picked off third with Thomas at the plate. The freshman didn't let it bother him as he drilled a single to right field to score Jeroloman and make it 3-0 Auburn.

The Tar Heels came back with strong innings in the third and fourth to tie the game off Paxton. In the third Sean Farrell and Blair Waggett led off the inning with back-to-back doubles to get on the board against Paxton. That would be it in the third as Paxton settled down to keep the damage to just one run. In the fourth first baseman Chris Ianetta hit a long two-run home run to make the score 3-3 and put the pressure back on the Tigers. They would respond in a big way thanks to a clutch at-bat by Bell.

With one out in the top of the fifth, Tug Hulett doubled to right-center and moved to third base on a wild pitch with Bohm at the plate. Bohm's appearance would be a short one as a pitch to put runners on first and third with still just one out in the inning hit him. Sensing a chance for the kill, Renfroe sent Bell to the plate hoping for some magic from his potent bat. He got just that as Bell drilled a long home run over the left field wall to give Auburn a 6-3 lead and put them on the road to the sweep of the 22nd-ranked Tar Heels.

Still cruising on the mound, Paxton retired North Carolina in the fifth and sixth innings to give his teammates a chance to build the lead. They did just that as a Karl Amonite single scored Schade in the sixth inning to make it 7-3 before Auburn broke the game open in the seventh. Blistering at the plate, Thomas doubled to left field to get the inning started in exciting fashion for the estimated 200 Auburn fans in attendance. Reaching base for the fifth time on the day without a hit, Gamble hit a slow roller that the North Carolina pitcher couldn't handle. The plate allowed Thomas to move to third with nobody out.

Moran followed by hitting into a fielder's choice that retired Gamble but not before Thomas scored Auburn's eighth run of the day. Showing his speed, Moran quickly stole both second and third to give Huddleston the easy shot an another run batted in. He would capitalize as he drilled a long fly ball into center field that Waggett misplayed allowing him to reach second and Moran to score. A Schade single moved the senior to third and Hulett made it pay off with a fly ball to left field to score Huddleston. Amonite put the cap on the inning with a double down the right field line to score Schade and give the Tigers a commanding 11-3 lead.

Farrell gave the North Carolina fans a breath of hope in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run to left field to cut Auburn's lead to seven but that would be all as Paxton finished the inning to put an end to his day. Holding the Tar Heels to just four runs on seven hits, he did just what Auburn hoped he would do, get deep in the game with a lead to allow Auburn's dominating bullpen to close the door. The Tigers added two runs in the top of the ninth and North Carolina one of its own in the bottom of the inning to make the final score 13-5 Tigers.

Auburn stays in the ACC as they play the top-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Tuesday night at Plainsman Park. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will likely be the premier match-up in the nation on the night with two teams ranked in the top-10 in the country.

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