Auburn, Ala.--Stuck in a four-game losing streak, five Auburn pitchers combined to allow just three hits as the Tigers (15-10) defeated the #21 Troy Trojans 6-1 on a chilly night at Plainsman Park. Making his first appearance since March 2, Jon Luke Jacobs pitched three perfect innings while Will Irvin got the win to improve to 4-1 on the season, walking just one and allowing no hits in two innings.
Relievers Bradley Hendrix, Ethan Wallen and Zach Blatt finished things off on a night when Auburn needed a solid performance on the mound. Coach John Pawlowski said coming off the four-game skid it was huge to get a win against the Trojans.
“It’s good to win,” Pawlowski said. “Our guys have worked hard. We didn’t have much luck this weekend and didn’t play real well. I thought Jon Luke Jacobs set the tone early. He went out there and attacked the zone. We were fortunate to get some runs on the board. I thought we pitched extremely well early in the ball game.”
Back after being banged up, Jacobs had command right from the beginning of the game Tuesday night. Entering with a 1-1 record and an ERA of 1.93, the Jackson native said it was a huge game for him to pitch well.
“It was great,” Jacobs said. “Coach told me I was only going to go a few innings so I went out there and tried to go as hard as I could for as long as I could. It was huge for me to get some confidence going again and pick up where I left off.”
At the plate Justin Fradejas had two of Auburn’s seven hits on the night while Tony Caldwell added a double and scored three runs batting in the number two spot. Early on the offense struggled to find a rhythm against Troy (19-5) starter Shane McCain as the game remained scoreless until Auburn finally broke the ice with a run in the bottom of the fourth.
Drawing a walk to lead off the inning, Caldwell moved to second a sacrifice bunt by Casey McElroy. Following a fly ball out, Brooks Beisner hit one off the end of the bat that just squirted by Troy second baseman T.J. Rivera and into right field. The error allowed Caldwell to score and put Auburn on top.
Troy threatened in the top of the sixth as Hendrix and Wallen walked the bases loaded with two outs before getting a strikeout to end the threat with the Trojans still looking for their first hit. Up by a run the Tigers went back to work in the sixth as Caldwell doubled to left field and scored moments later on a McElroy double.
Up 2-0 Auburn added to its lead in the bottom of the seventh with another run. Leading off the inning, first baseman Kevin Patterson reached on an infield single and moved to second on a Creede Simpson sacrifice bunt. One out later freshman catcher Blake Austin made his first hit pay off as his single to right field scored Patterson for a three-run lead.
A bunt single by Fradejas and a walk to Caldwell loaded the bases for McElroy. Facing lefty reliever Garrett McHenry, the junior worked a walk to force home Austin and make it 4-0 Auburn. In for Dan Gamache, senior Wes Gilmer flared a single to right field to score two more runs for the Tigers.
With a six-run lead Blatt came on to try to close things out in the top of the eighth and pitched a scoreless inning before allowing the only run for the Trojans in the ninth on a Gilmer error, a balk, and a two-base wild pitch.
Auburn returns to action Friday night at 6 p.m. when the Tigers take on top-ranked Vanderbilt in the first of three games at Plainsman Park.