June 3, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A six-run third inning was the difference for Auburn University as the Tigers advanced in the Tallahassee regional of the NCAA Baseball Tournament with a 13-5 win over South Alabama on Friday (June 3) in front of 2,033 fans at Florida State’s Dick Howser Stadium.
The victory improved Auburn’s record to 33-24 on the year, while the Jaguars dropped to 35-26. Auburn will face the winner of the Florida State-Army game at 7 p.m. on Saturday (June 4). South Alabama will face the loser of that contest in an elimination game at 1 p.m.
“I was just very proud of our ball club today,” said Auburn Head Coach Tom Slater. “I thought we came out and had a tremendous approach at the plate to a very good and competitive pitcher in P.J. Walters. I’m real proud of our kids. I thought our pitchers did a tremendous job of filling up the strike zone and it was very well played defensively, offensively and on the mound by our guys.”
After the two teams traded solo home runs in the second inning – one from South Alabama’s Joel Collins that was answered by the Tigers’ Jeff Boutwell – Auburn broke the one-one tie with a six-run third. The Tigers hit a pair of home runs in the frame, a two-run shot by right fielder Clete Thomas followed by another from first baseman Karl Amonite. All but one Auburn batter reached base in the frame as South Alabama starter P.J. Walters gave up six hits and issued two walks.
“Well, Auburn came out of the shoot and really swung the bats with a six run inning and really broke our backs a bit,” said USA head coach Steve Kittrell. “When we tried to battle back, they battled back with three, I think in the seventh. We just never could close that gap. We have to tip our caps to Auburn. I think the layoff really helped them, they really played well, swung the bats well and came out fighting today. There’s no question about that.”
Auburn starter Arnold Hughey kept the Jaguars at bay for three innings following the home run in the second – retiring nine of ten batters – until the sixth inning. South Alabama struck for three runs in the sixth, including a two-run home run by Josh Morgan – his 18th of the year – as Hughey was chased from the game.
The eight runs were enough to give Hughey the win as his record improved to 8-4 for the season. The lefty threw 70 pitches in 5 1/3, giving up four runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Saddled with the loss, Walters fell to 10-7 on the year. In four and a third innings of work, the right-hander threw 100 pitches and gave up eight runs, six earned, on nine hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
South Alabama picked up another run in the seven off the Auburn reliever John Madden. The right-hander almost worked himself out of the jam as he got Patrick Weaver to ground into a double play with runners on first and second, but third baseman Patrick Freese delivered a single through the left side to plate Guillermo Martinez to make it an 8-5 game.
Answering the four-straight runs by South Alabama, the Tigers tacked on three runs in the seventh. A two-run single by Donaldson pushed Bell and Amonite across the plate. Edwards followed with another single that allowed Dixon to score from second to make the score 11-5. Dixon, who lead the Tigers with three RBI’s, knocked in two more himself with single to center field in the eighth.
All but one hitter in the Auburn starting line-up collected two hits as the Tigers racked up 17 as a team. Of the 10 South Alabama hits, two apiece came from Montgomery and Collins.