In Game 1 against rival Alabama, Auburn was able to get all the pieces clicking in a 5-1 win.
A combination of early offense, impressive defense and shutout pitching put the Tigers back in the win column after losing three straight games last weekend at Vanderbilt.
"We’ve always competed until the end, but getting up early and keeping the foot on the gas is something we were looking for,” said junior Rankin Woley. "Tonight we kind of put it all together, pitching, defense and hitting. That’s the real reason why we got the W tonight.”
Woley went 3-for-4 on the night with three RBIs. In his last two games, he has six RBIs.
Of the five runs the Tigers had, four of them came on two out hits. Woley hit two two-out doubles to score three and Edouard Julien hit a two-out triple in the bottom of the eighth to score a run.
“I think the team has kind of struggled with it (getting hits with two outs) and myself in particular," Woley said. "I have definitely been wanting to come up big for the team in those situations. The past couple of weeks we’ve been looking for a spark to get the team going. Two-out hits win ballgames in the SEC. Having runners on is a premium and anytime you can knock them in it makes the pitchers feel better and the players feel better and puts more pressure on the other team.”
On the pitching side of the game, Jack Owen got the start for Auburn (28-17, 11-11 SEC) for the first time since he was injured on March 16 against Tennessee. Owen pitched five innings and allowed one run on five hits and two walks. He did not strike out a batter.
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“I’m used to when Jack is really rolling,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “It’s get ahead, stay ahead. I though he got down in the count, behind in the count, a little bit tonight. Still found a way to win and that’s where you tip your hat to somebody that wasn’t great.”
To back up Owen, Auburn's defense had three doubles plays. Ryan Bliss had several big plays and Woley started two of the three double plays.
“I thought the double plays were huge tonight on defense,” Thompson said. “I thought we played stellar defense, especially on the right side.”
Auburn got on the board quick with two runs in the bottom of the first. A sacrifice fly from Matt Scheffler scored Bliss, and Woley brought home Julien on a double.
Owen allowed Alabama to score a run in the top of the fourth on three hits and a stolen base. Auburn responded in the bottom of the fifth with two runs on Woley’s second double of the night.
After Elliott Anderson pitched three scoreless innings of relief, Auburn tacked on another run in the bottom of the eighth. With the 5-1 lead, Cody Greenhill came in to close out the game. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two.
Game 2 is set for a 7 p.m. CST start on Saturday at Plainsman Park. Brooks Fuller (2-2, 3.13 ERA) will take the mound for the Tigers against Brock Love (4-4, 5.11 ERA), who will start for the Tide.
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