The Alabama offense battered the Auburn Tigers in a different fashion Saturday afternoon.
After taking Friday night’s series opener on a pair of ninth-inning home runs, the Crimson Tide (27-24, 10-16 SEC) scattered 17 hits off Tiger pitching and held off late Auburn (32-19, 12-14 SEC) surges to clinch the series with a 7-6 victory.
“We just never could get any momentum because of pitching,” coach Sunny Golloway said. “That’s two nights in a row that we’ve been up in the zone. Most lineups in the SEC are going to hurt you if you’re up in the zone.”
Alabama players Chance Vincent (middle, ground) and Casey Hughston (left, ground) receive medical attention after colliding in the outfield. (Jordan Hays | Copy Editor)
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Auburn starter Rocky McCord surrendered three earned runs on 10 hits in 6 and one-third innings pitched, but the real damage came against the bullpen.
Reliever Justin Camp surrendered seven hits and four earned runs in 2 and two-thirds innings pitched in a loss.
“Cole Lipscomb and Rocky have done a terrific job starting in back-to-back games,” Golloway said. “It’s a little discouraging how we’ve come out of the bullpen.”
Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning after J.C. Wilhite singled in Kyle Overstreet.
Auburn would respond with a three-run sixth inning that was highlighted by Daniel Robert’s two-RBI double.
That lead quickly dissipated in the seventh, when the Crimson Tide finally got to McCord and Camp for four runs.
Cody Nulph provided Auburn’s response with a two-run home run in the seventh, his third of the season.
Play was then stopped for 20 minutes after Alabama first baseman Chance Vincent suffered an injury in a collision along the right field line. Vincent was placed into a neck brace and stretcher before being transported to the East Alabama Medical Center by an ambulance.
Once play resumed, leading hitter Anfernee Grier had an at bat with a runner in scoring position, but he struck out. Grier went 0-for-5 and struck out four times on the afternoon.
“(Grier)’s probably trying to do too much,” Golloway said. “He’s trying to do more than he’s capable of. You know, he’s just one guy. You can’t fault him for that. Sometimes he feels like he needs to carry us, but that can’t be the case. We’ve got to get everybody involved.”
Georgie Salem and Mikey White provided the winning runs in the top of the eighth, but Auburn didn’t go down without a fight.
The Tigers pushed one more run across in the eighth, then had the bases loaded for Kyler Deese. Deese grounded out to second base, however, and the Tigers would put up little fight in the ninth.
“I really thought our hitting would start to come around,” Golloway said. “We’ve got to get our guys a little more aggressive at the plate.”
With the series lost, Golloway and the Tigers will look to avoid the sweep Sunday, May 10, at Plainsman Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Golloway said avoiding a sweep is vital not only for the team’s confidence, but also for their NCAA Tournament résumé.
“They need to go out and try not to lose where you’re at, but try to win something,” Golloway said. “You’ve got a great opportunity in front of you, but you have to go out and play for it.”