Lefty And Long Balls Take Down Tigers

<B>Tiger Ticket</b>

Auburn dropped the first game of its SEC baseball road trip to Vanderbilt.

Nashville, Tenn.--Vanderbilt left-hander Jeremy Sowers pitched out early inning trouble against the Tigers and then slammed the door on the visitors as the Commodores took a 7-4 baseball victory on Friday night.

Sowers struck out 12 Tigers and allowed just two runs in eight innings to improve his record to 5-4. Tiger starter Arnold Hughey struck out seven batters in seven and one-third innings and allowed just five hits. He gave up seven runs, but only three were earned as he dropped to 4-4 this season.

Auburn's loss was the third in the past four SEC games for the slumping Tigers. For Vandy, it was the third victory in the last four SEC games. Auburn will need to win the Saturday and Sunday contests to keep from losing a series to the Commodores for the first time since 1973.

Vandy managed just six hits in the game, but took advantage of its scoring opportunities. Auburn finished the night with 11 hits, including four by Karl Amonite and three by Tug Hulett, but left a dozen runners stranded to just four for the home team.

Auburn got off to a solid start by taking the lead in the top of the first inning. Sean Gamble opened the game with a single and one out later moved to third on a double by Hulett. Bobby Huddleston sent Gamble home with a sacrifice fly to center field. Sowers got out of the inning by causing Josh Bell to pop out to the first baseman.

The Tigers had a chance to get to Sowers in the second inning, too. Amonite, Auburn's hottest hitter, singled to center field to open the inning. Scott Schade doubled to left center giving the Tigers two runners in scoring position with no outs.

Sowers then got Clete Thomas to strike out. Chuck Jeroloman then hit a ground ball to the shortstop, who threw out Amonite at the plate for the second out. Leadoff hitter Gamble then struck out looking to end the threat.

Auburn lost its lead in the second inning when leadoff hitter John Kaye singled to center field to open the inning and with two outs light-hitting Jonathan Douillard smacked his first homer of the season to right center to give the Commodores a 2-1 lead.

An error by Jeroloman opened the door for a four-run fourth inning for the home team. Tony Mansolino doubled to right field to put runners on second and third with nobody out and a sacrifice fly put Vandy up 3-1. Hughey then got the next hitter to fly out to center field, but the Commodores got an RBI single by Zach Simpson for the second run of the inning. Ryan Klosterman then doubled Vandy's run total in the inning by drilling a home run to left center field putting the home team on top 6-1.

The Tigers tried to rally in the sixth as Hulett opened the inning with an opposite field single to left. Huddleston then walked and Bell made the first out by striking out swinging. Amonite then singled to right to cut the lead to 4-2, but Sowers retired Schade and Thomas to get out of the jam.

Hughey pitched into the eighth inning and was pulled after Cesar Nicolas reached base on a wild pitch strike three and Warner Jones moved him to second base on a ground out. Andrew Skinner then got the call and walked John Kaye, brining on Lee Carter out of the bullpen. A two-out pinch-hit single by Worth Scott pushed a run home giving the Commodores a 7-2 lead.

Auburn made it interesting in the ninth inning as reliever Jansen Lewis came in to pitch for Sowers. Gamble led off and reached base on an error and Moran was then hit by a pitch. Hulett followed with an RBI single to left, but Moran made the first out at second base as he was thrown out by the shortstop on a big turn past the bag.

Huddleston hit a ground ball to shortstop for out two. The Tigers scored another run to cut the lead to 7-4. Bell singled and Amonite followed with an RBI single. Schade came to the plate as the potential tying run, but he struck out to end the game.

"You have to tip your hat to Jeremy Sowers," Auburn coach Steve Renfroe said. "That's why he's a first-rounder. He found a way to throw his best pitches when he had to. We have to stop those four-run innings. That's where we got hurt. You give a guy a lead like that, he's able to come and make pitches when he has to."

The Tigers and Commodores are scheduled to play two on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Box Score

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