AUBURN, AL – Auburn's leadoff man reached base safely and scored in each of the first three innings as Auburn built an early four run lead en route to a 13-6 series-opening win over Kentucky. The win was Auburn's first SEC series-opening win since the conference opener at Georgia and moved its record to 26-13, 9-7 SEC.
Justin Fradejas (20 games), Trent Mummey (11) and Hunter Morris (14) each extended their hitting streaks with first-inning hits. Fradejas and Mummey both singled and Morris drove them both in with his fourth triple of the year to give Auburn a lead it would never relinquish.
Mummey finished the game 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI, scoring twice. His fourth-inning home run extended his personal homer streak to three straight conference games, giving him six home runs on the season in just 11 games since returning from a severely sprained ankle.
"Trent is type of guy who just wants to put the uniform on and go out there and play," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "He has been a great addition to our lineup."
"It was a real important for us (to get a lead early) as we come out trying to win a series," Mummey said. "It's tough to win Saturday and Sunday after coming off of a loss on Friday night, so to get off on a good note is a real positive for this team."
With the Auburn bats jumping on Kentucky starter Logan Darnell (3-3) early and often it gave Auburn starter Cory Luckie a comfortable cushion to work with. Following his complete game win at Vanderbilt last Saturday, Luckie (5-2) went 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits without issuing a walk while striking out five, including four from the two- and three-hole hitters in the Kentucky (22-16, 5-11 SEC) lineup.
"It was really a Jekyll and Hyde game. I felt really well against some hitters and then some hitters I couldn't get the ball down," Luckie said. "It was another night where our offense did really well and that kept me really comfortable on the mound."
"I am really proud of the job Cory Luckie did, getting us into the sixth inning. That set the tone for us. We needed someone to step up on a Friday night and he did exactly what we needed him to do, get deep in the game and give our offense a chance to get going," Pawlowski said.
Up 3-0 after a Tony Caldwell sac fly scored Morris in the first, Kentucky responded with two runs off of Luckie on Braden Kapteyan's two-run home run in the second. Auburn answered in the bottom half of the frame as a Justin Hargett sac fly scored Casey McElroy after he walked to lead off the inning to go up 4-2.
A Creede Simpson sac fly and a McElroy RBI groundout in the third upped Auburn's lead to 6-2 before Mummey's fourth-inning blast put Auburn up 7-2.
Kentucky crept to within three, 7-4, off of a fifth-inning RBI double by Marcus Nidiffer and a sixth-inning RBI double by Lance Ray, one of three doubles for Ray on the night.
Following Ray's double, Luckie was lifted in favor of Michael Hurst, who surrendered a hit and a walk before leaving in favor of Austin Hubbard, leaving the senior closer with the bases loaded and Nidiffer at the plate. Hubbard went to a 2-2 count on Nidiffer before getting the Kentucky catcher to go down swinging, preserving the three-run cushion.
Auburn scored a pair of unearned runs in the sixth to give Hubbard a four-run cushion, 9-4, and then scored four more times in the seventh following a Kentucky run in the top of the seventh. Tony Caldwell and Kevin Patterson hit back-to-back solo home runs while Fradejas contributed a sac fly and Mummey a RBI single.
Kentucky got one final run on the board when Hubbard walked the leadoff hitter, Taylor Black, and then uncorked three wild pitches.
Hubbard earned his fourth save of the season and the 16th of his four-year career on three hits and two walks, striking out three.
Darnell was charged for nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits and two walks, striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings.
Auburn will try to capture the series win on Saturday when the two teams meet at 11am CT, which is an earlier start than originally scheduled due to the threat of severe weather in the Auburn-Opelika area.