TIGERS TOP TIDE, 8-6, AT CAPITAL CITY CLASSIC

From Auburn Media Relations

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Southeastern Conference's top offense got the better of the second-best pitching staff in the league as Auburn claimed an 8-6 non-conference win over No. 16 Alabama in the second annual Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium on Wednesday night. Auburn reliever Michael Hurst was named the game's Most Valuable Player as he shut down the Alabama offense in the middle innings to pick up the win for Auburn, which has now won seven straight games.

"It was a typical Auburn-Alabama baseball game. Both teams played one heck of a ball game tonight," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "Michael Hurst came in in middle relief and did an outstanding job for us. Add in Austin Hubbard and when you have to step up and make big pitches, I thought these guys did a really good job for us."

Hurst (2-0) entered the game with two runners in scoring position and two runs already in for Alabama with Auburn clinging to a 5-4 lead with two down in the fourth. The side-winder induced a fly out from the first hitter he faced and then proceeded to keep Alabama off the scoreboard for the next three-plus innings as Auburn extended its' lead to 7-4.

Hurst, a senior from Vestavia, threw 3 1/3 innings on the night, allowing a run on one hit and three walks, striking out two as he departed after facing one batter in the eighth, which walk and eventually scored.

"I just tried to come out and throw strikes in the zone and let my defense work behind me," Hurst said.

Austin Hubbard picked up his third save of the season, entering for Hurst in the ninth. Though he did allow his inherited runner to score as well as another unearned run thanks to a fielding error, the senior closer kept the Alabama hitters chasing in the ninth as he struck out three of the four hitters he faced to nail down Auburn's second win in two tries at the Capital City Classic.

Creede Simpson paced Auburn with three hits, including his eighth double of the year, and two RBI while Casey McElroy had two hits and three RBI and Tony Caldwell had two hits and two RBI.

"A lot of guys stepped up tonight and I was able to contribute," Simpson said. "It's a good win for us. It's always fun to play your rival and we were able to get the job done tonight."

Auburn (16-5) battered Alabama starter Jonathan Smart (1-1) for five runs on six hits and a walk in just 2 1/3 innings, hitting a double, a triple and two home runs off the southpaw.

Caldwell's fourth home run of the season gave Auburn a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, blasting a 3-1 pitch onto the railroad tracks in left.

Alabama, which fell 16-3, answered Auburn's run with a pair of runs in the top of the third, scoring on Taylor Dugas' triple and a Josh Rutledge RBI groundout to take a 2-1 lead.

After a Hunter Morris triple scored Simpson following his one out double, Brian Fletcher drew a four-pitch walk and McElroy blistered his second home run of the season, a deep liner to right that put Auburn ahead, 5-2 and ended Smart's night early.

Alabama answered again with two in the top of the fourth on Rutledge's two-out, bases loaded single to left to make it 5-4. Rutledge's hit ended Auburn starter Slade Smith's night after he had allowed four runs on five hits while still striking out six in 3 2/3.

Auburn got one run back in the bottom of the fourth on a Simpson two-out single to left, scoring Justin Bryant to go up 6-4. Bryant had reached first on a strike out-wild pitch, went to second on a Justin Fradejas groundout and then to third on another wild pitch.

Auburn added a much-needed insurance run in the seventh on Caldwell's two-out RBI single as Alabama answered with two runs in the eighth off of Hurst and Hubbard to make it a one-run game, 7-6. Kelton drew the walk off Hurst and scored on Dugas' single while pinch hitter Chris Smelley drew a walk off of Hubbard and scored with McElroy couldn't cleanly field an inning-ending ground ball.

Simpson's ninth-inning sacrifice fly scored Wes Gilmer, who had walked to start the inning, to up Auburn's advantage to 8-6.

Alabama had entered the game allowing just five home runs in its' first 18 games before the SEC's top home run club put two on them to up its' season total to 36.

Auburn returns home for a three-game series against No. 14 South Carolina this weekend. Game times are set for 6:30pm CT on Friday, noon on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday. Fans are reminded that Saturday's game was moved up three hours from the originally scheduled time to accommodate the live television broadcast on CSS.

 

ALABAMA FALLS TO AUBURN AT CAPITAL CITY CLASSIC, 8-6

From Alabama Media Relations

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The No. 16 University of Alabama baseball team dropped an 8-6 decision to No. 29 Auburn University in the second annual Capital City Classic in front of 7,205 fans at Montgomery's Riverwalk Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Crimson Tide was held in check during the middle innings by Auburn relief pitcher Michael Hurst, who saw his teammates extend a one-run lead to three runs during his time on the mound. Hurst (2-0) allowed one run and three hits in 3 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and three walks.

"I thought when Hurst came into the game he did a really nice job and kept us at bay," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Offensively, we really didn't have an answer for him. We knew (Austin) Hubbard was down in the pen and probably a two-inning guy tonight."

Auburn (16-5) led 7-4 entering the eighth inning before the Crimson Tide scored two runs and had the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Sophomore DH Jon Kelton drew a leadoff walk against Hurst, who left the game after throwing 51 pitchers.

Hubbard entered the game and pinch-hitter Chris Smelley drew a walk, before pinch-hitter Andrew Miller struck out. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas then lined an RBI single to right to score Kelton as the Tide closed the gap to 7-5. Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge struck out before junior second baseman Ross Wilson reached on an error by AU shortstop Casey McElroy that chased Smelley home from third base and cut the margin to 7-6. Senior first baseman Clay Jones grounded out to short to the end the inning.

Dugas went 3-for-3 with two walks and has reached base safely in his last eight plate appearances. In his last four games, he has reached base 14 of 19 times. Rutledge went 1-for-5 with three RBI to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.

Auburn scored an insurance run in the eighth inning to take an 8-6 lead. Wes Gilmer drew a leadoff walk and later scored on Crede Simpson's sacrifice fly to give the Tigers a two-run lead.

Alabama (16-3) scored two runs in the third, fourth and eighth innings, only to see Auburn score in the bottom half of each inning, including a four-run third inning, highlighted by McElroy's three-run home run that gave the Tigers a 5-2 lead.

"Auburn has a really good offensive team and we were kind of chasing our tail from the start with McElroy's three-run home run," Gaspard added. "I think there were three different times we made a run at them to get the game close or tied and they answered our runs each time. That's something we've talked about with our pitchers and we didn't do a real good job with that tonight."

Tony Caldwell's solo home run in the bottom of the second inning gave Auburn a 1-0 lead.

Alabama came back with two runs in the top of the third inning to take a 2-1 lead. Junior catcher Brock Bennett extended his hitting streak to five games with a double off the left field wall. Dugas followed with a triple to right center to score Bennett with the tying the game at 1-1. Dugas scored the go-ahead run when Rutledge grounded out to third base to give the Tide a 2-1 lead.

Auburn regained the lead with four runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 5-2 lead. Hunter Morris had an RBI triple and McElroy drilled a three-run home run to right field to put the Tigers back in the lead and chase UA starter Jonathan Smart , who allowed five runs and six hits, including two home runs in 2 1/3 innings. Smart dropped to 1-1 with the loss.

The Crimson Tide answered with two runs in the top of the fourth inning on Rutledge's two-out, two-run single to cut the lead to 5-4.

Junior John David Smelser drew a leadoff walk and moved to second Kelton's bunt single. Freshman left fielder Brett Booth's sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position before AU starter Slade Smith struck out Bennett for the second out of the inning. Smith then walked Dugas to load the bases before Rutledge followed with a two-out base hit to left field to make the score 5-4.

Hurst replaced Smith and got junior second baseman Ross Wilson to fly out to center field to end the inning, leaving two runners on base. Smith was touched for four runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and three walks.

Auburn added run in the bottom of the fourth on Simpson's two-out single to left to push the lead to 6-4.

The Tigers made it 7-4 in the seventh inning on Caldwell's RBI single to center that scored pinch-runner Mitchell Self.

Alabama will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the No. 15 Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend at Baum Stadium. The series opener is Friday, March 26, at 6:35 p.m. (CDT).