AUBURN, AL – With runners on the corners, none out and LSU employing five infielders in the bottom of the ninth, Justin Fradejas and Auburn executed a perfect safety squeeze to score Casey McElroy and give Auburn a 6-5, series-clinching win over No. 3 LSU on Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park. Fradejas placed his bunt right at LSU first baseman Blake Dean, who was able to make a play on the ball but his throw home was high and to the first base side, allowing a hard-charging Casey McElroy to get in under a swipe tag by LSU catcher Micah Gibbs, sending the 3,130 fans into a frenzy as Auburn won its first home series over LSU since 1998.
"There was certainly some excitement in the dugout when Justin put down that safety squeeze," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "This is a great win for our kids and our program. We were down 3-0 before we even came to bat. The kids stayed with it, we stayed with the game plan and we found a way to scratch for a run here and there."
McElroy got the ninth inning started with a double down the left field line and went to third when Kevin Patterson singled through the left side, putting runners on the corners and brining LSU closer Matty Ott into the game. The first pitch he threw was the only pitch Fradejas saw as he laid down the perfect bunt to move Auburn to 22-11, 7-5 SEC.
"Before the pitch Coach P (Pawlowski) told me that we were going to safety squeeze and I was just thinking about getting a bunt down in a good spot so that Casey could score," Fradejas said. "This is a huge win for us. They are the defending national champion and they are ranked number three."
Austin Hubbard (3-1) picked up the win for Auburn, throwing the final four innings and retiring all but one of the 13 hitters he faced, striking out three after entering with none out and men on first and second after Bradley Hendrix hit a batter and walked a batter. Hubbard fanned the first two hitters he faced and then induced a groundout to first to keep the game 4-4 after the top of the sixth.
"I was able to fill it up, pound the bottom of the zone and let the guys behind me work which helped me get a few ground outs and some pop-outs,"
Hubbard said. "My main focus was to come in and make one pitch at a time and make them work."
Auburn took a 5-4 lead with two down in the top of the sixth when Kevin Patterson crushed a 1-1 offering from Austin Ross, hitting it three-quarters of the way up the batters' eye in center for his eighth home run of the season, only to have LSU tie it on Johnny Dishon's leadoff home run off of Hubbard in the ninth.
Ross (3-3) would take the loss for LSU as he allowed the Patterson blast and was responsible for McElory in the bottom of the ninth.
LSU built a 3-0 lead in the first on Grant Dayton, loading the bases on two singles and a walk and as Austin Nola, Matt Gaudet and Leon Landry all drove in runs. Dayton settled down after Landry's fielder's choice play scored Gibbs, retiring 11 of the next 12 hitters he faced until Mikie Mahtook hit a one-out single in the fifth.
Dayton retired the next hitter in the fifth in Dean but could not get the final out, walking Gibbs and giving up a RBI single to Nola that tied the game at 4-4, giving way to Hendrix, who got Auburn out of the inning without any more damage. Dayton finished his day allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks with two strike outs in 4 2/3 innings.
Auburn answered LSU's three-run first with four straight unanswered runs on a Fradejas RBI single in the second, solo home runs by Hunter Morris in the third and Tony Caldwell in the fourth as well as Trent Mummey's RBI infield single in the fourth to go up 4-3.
The series win was Auburn's first over LSU since 2007 in Baton Rouge and also gave LSU just its second losing streak in its last 135 games as Auburn won 11-7 on Saturday. Coming into the weekend LSU had won 16 of its last 17 SEC series, eight of which came on the road.