AUBURN — Despite some early scoring from Samford (21-16) to make the contest look competitive, it was complete domination from the Tigers (21-15-1) in their Tuesday night clash with the Bulldogs. Auburn is back on track with a win, and in convincing fashion, run-ruling Samford 13-3 in eight innings.
Samford was forced to use nine pitchers, with Jacob Newman taking the loss after giving up seven hits and five runs, four of them earned, in just 2.1 innings of action. Auburn's offense was clicking all night, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead and netting 14 hits in 34 overall plate appearances.
"Our top four guys and then Cooper McMurray to come on board with his home run, so really the top five guys did a lot and Kason got the big hit there at the end of the ballgame," head coach Butch Thompson said. "We kept working. It happened late there for us. It was really a much closer ballgame."
That hit Thompson was referring to ultimately iced the game for the Tigers. Auburn entered the bottom of the eighth inning leading 7-3 after a Copper McMurray home run extended the lead in the seventh. The inning began with eight straight batters reaching base, including an RBI single for Bobby Peirce, an RBI double for Ike Irish and an RBI walk Justin Kirby.
With the bases loaded, Howell delivered an RBI double, sending McMurray and Byrson Ware home, sending the fans home early and sealing the game for Auburn.
"I want to be consistent. I want to be the same guy every day and lead these guys the best I can, encourage them, be positive," Howell said. "Every year teams go on a run, and we just haven't caught our stride yet. We know we can play really good baseball and tonight was just a great way to start the week."
That double from Howell was his 18th of the season and the 66th of his career.
The Tigers were led on the mound by a trio of freshman pitchers, Zach Crotchfelt, Hayden Murphy and Drew Nelson combined for over six innings of work, holding the Bulldogs to seven hits and three runs during that time. Closer John Armstrong stepped in to earn the save.
"Our first three pitchers were freshman there so they're still taking a step, and tonight was a step forward," Thompson said. "We didn't issue walks or help their offense a whole lot. All these are little, small, modest growths, and they kept them at bay enough and allowed the offense to hook it up there the last two innings."
Auburn's entire pitching staff had 10 strikeouts and three walks, compared to Samford's seven walks and seven strikeouts. The Tigers now head toward a weekend series with Mississippi State(22-15, 5-10 SEC). First pitch for the series-opening contest on Friday is set for 6 p.m. CST.
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