HOOVER, Ala. – On the strength of a five-run second inning and another solid effort from the bullpen, No. 18 Auburn defeated Samford, 8-4, Tuesday night at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
With the win, Auburn completes non-conference play 21-5 and midweek games 12-1 this season.
“There has been enough maturity with this club to take if every day,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “What is the preparation for today? We haven’t looked ahead. It’s been mature, and I appreciate it. This is the mark of a good ballclub. We will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. This was a good job with that mindset tonight.”
All nine players in Auburn’s lineup recorded a hit, including a pair of hits from Kason Howell and Nate LaRue, who also led the way with three RBI and threw out a baserunner from behind the plate.
“I was really just trying to let the ball travel and see it deep,” LaRue said of his RBI single to start the scoring in the second. “I just got my hands inside on that was middle-in.”
On the mound, the Tigers bullpen turned in 8.0 scoreless frames before surrendering a two-out homer in the ninth. The bullpen hadn’t allowed a run in 22.0 innings dating back to the seventh inning at Troy last Tuesday.
“I’m not always going to be perfect, nobody is, but this team has my back and I have theirs,” senior lefty Carson Skipper said. “There isn’t a single guy out there that I don’t have full trust in. It’s just that type of team chemistry that we have.”
Samford (24-26) started the scoring with a two-out, two-run rally in the first, but Auburn (36-16) responded by batting around and scoring five runs in the second. A walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases for LaRue, who ripped a single to left to put the Tigers on the board. Hoover native Garrett Farquhar gave the Tigers the lead with a two-RBI double to left-center before Brody Moore and fellow Hoover native Sonny DiChiara extended the advantage with an RBI apiece.
After entering with the bases loaded and getting a strikeout to end the first, Skipper (5-2, 4.25) turned in a scoreless second and third inning en route to ultimately earning the win. The southpaw matched a season high with four strikeouts.
Samford threatened to cut into Auburn’s lead on a wild pitch with a runner on third, but a slick barehanded flip from LaRue to Skipper cut down the runner at the plate to end the third.
Samford loaded the bases with three walks in the fifth, but John Armstrong entered and needed just three pitches to strikeout Blake Bortak and keep the lead at three. Armstrong ultimately faced the minimum in 2.1 scoreless, marking his third scoreless appearance in the last five games.
The Tigers added three runs on an RBI single from Howell and two-RBI double from LaRue in the top of the seventh. The RBI were Larue’s second and third of the game, marking his eighth multi-RBI effort of the season.
Chase Allsup pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Samford cut the six-run lead to the eventual final of 8-4 on the aforementioned two-run homer in the ninth.
The Tigers wrap up the regular season with a three-game series at Kentucky (28-23, 10-17 SEC) Thursday through Saturday.