Coming into this season, No. 12 Auburn was 9-1 in its last 10 meetings against Alabama in Montgomery and had won four straight games against its in-state rival.
Tuesday night, however, was a different story.
The Crimson Tide scored three runs in the eighth inning off of three different Auburn pitchers to break the deadlock and pull away from the Tigers, 6-3, in the 11th annual Capital City Classic in front of a record crowd at Riverwalk Stadium.
Tied 3-3 in the eighth, Alabama (20-6, 2-4 SEC) scored the go-ahead run on a Ryan Watson wild pitch, then padded its lead with two more runs on Joe Breaux’s RBI double to the gap in left center field.
“We don’t have (Elliott) Anderson, we don’t have (Cody) Greenhill and I’ve got to start protecting those guys. I can’t get them every night,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “Even against your rival we’ve got to make sure we’re strong for the weekend. Somebody is going to have to start filling that gap and helping us to the finish line.”
Freshman Garrett Wade got the start for Auburn but was pulled with a 2-1 deficit after loading the bases and walking a run home in the fourth. Wade, who earned a no decision, gave up four hits, two runs and five walks in 3.2 innings pitched.
That gave way to Richard Fitts, who was the lone bright spot on the mound for the Tigers. The Helena, Alabama, native threw a career-high 3.2 scoreless innings and allowed only three hits with one walk and one strikeout.
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“We just faltered on the mound a little bit,” Thompson said. “We have to keep playing. We have to keep going. Richard Fitts did a great job for us tonight. I’m not going to dwell on the negative. We have to continue to try to fight to get some things going.”
Edouard Julien scored the first run of the game for the Tigers on an infield single from Conor Davis in the fourth inning to make it 2-1, advancing from second on an errant throw to first by Alabama shortstop Kolby Robinson.
Fitts walked a run home with the first man he faced in the fourth inning, extending Alabama’s lead once again, but Rankin Woley’s RBI single in the top of the fifth cut the lead to 3-2.
Two innings later, the Tigers came through with a runner in scoring position to tie the game for the second time. Will Holland drew a leadoff walk and stole his 11th base of the season to get into scoring position. With two outs, Edouard Julien then drove in his 13th run in the last 10 games on a single back up the middle to tie the game, 3-3.
Steven Williams and Davis each finished two hits apiece, while Woley and Julien were both 1-for-3 at the plate with one RBI.
Fitts started the bottom of the eighth inning with a strikeout, but Alabama was able to get to a trio of fellow Auburn relievers to plate the eventual three runs in the frame. Kyle Gray (1-2) took the loss after facing only one batter, before giving way to Will Morrison and Watson.
Auburn (20-5, 4-2 SEC) drops its first Capital City Classic since 2014, while second-year Alabama coach Brad Bohannon, who left Auburn’s staff in 2017 after serving as an assistant under Thompson, gets his first win against the Tigers after going 0-4 last season.
Auburn continues SEC play with a weekend series at South Carolina (16-9, 1-5 SEC). First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST. Saturday and Sunday will air on SEC Network with game times of 12 p.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.
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