Auburn's baseball team scored five runs in the first inning and pounded out a season-high 11 hits in a 7-3 win over Alabama A&M Tuesday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers (4-4) got back to .500 on the strength of their best offensive output of the year, and at the same time, the Auburn pitching staff held Alabama A&M (3-8) to just three hits, a season-low for an Auburn opponent.
"I think our guys did a terrific job coming out," Auburn head coach Sunny Golloway said. "They came out ready to play. I could tell in pregame, I could tell in batting practice. There was an extra step in our dugout and in our locker room. We jumped on them quick, and that was big. We had 11 hits in the first four innings. But we ended with 11 hits, so that's 0-for-12 with five walks over the last four innings. So you've got to keep your foot on the gas. We've got to learn from the game, but I'm not going to be hard on our guys about that because they jumped out to the big lead and took pressure off our pitcher."
It was a much-needed big day at the plate for Auburn, who had scored a combined seven runs in its last four games. Freshman Anfernee Grier, sophomore Jordan Ebert and senior Ryan Tella led the way for Auburn at the plate with two hits apiece. Ebert drove in a pair of runs as well. Eight of nine Auburn starters recorded hits on the day.
Freshman Kevin Davis (1-0), in a three-inning pre-determined start, picked up his first career win. He gave up two earned runs on two hits and struck out one.
The Auburn bullpen, though, kept Alabama A&M in check over the final six innings. Five Tiger pitchers combined to finish the game and gave up just one unearned run on one hit with two walks through the final six frames. Junior Trey Cochran-Gill shut down the Bulldogs in the ninth, striking out all three batters he faced.
The Tigers got all the runs they would need in the first inning. The first came on a Blake Austin sacrifice fly that scored Damon Haecker from third, and an RBI single from Damek Tomscha brought home Dan Glevenyak to make it 2-0. Keegan Thompson followed that up with a double down the right field line to bring home Tomscha, and then Thompson would score one batter later on an RBI single from Daniel Robert to make it 4-0. The final Auburn run came on an Ebert RBI single to center, scoring Robert.
All told, Auburn got productive at-bats from all eight men that went to the plate in the first – six hits, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.
The other two Auburn runs came in the fourth. A leadoff walk to Thompson turned into the Tigers' sixth run with Ebert's RBI double scored him from first, and a wild play gave Auburn its seventh run. With Tella at second and Haecker at first, Grier ripped a single to left, and Tella was obstructed prior to rounding third. He was initially called out at the plate for the final out of the inning, but after Golloway appealed for the umpires to confer about the call, Tella was awarded home on the obstruction call.
Auburn's night at the plate could have been even better if not for some baserunning mistakes. The Tigers had three players caught stealing and a fourth thrown out at third trying to advance on a wild pitch. Ebert was caught straying too far from second on his RBI double in the fourth, and a would-be stolen base was erased by an interference call at home on Keegan Thompson.
The Tigers will hit the field again this weekend as they host Presbyterian College (4-3-1) for a three-game series at Plainsman Park. Game times are 6 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.