Following a tough weekend, losing three at Georgia, Coach John Pawlowski said it was good to see his team take care of business Tuesday night in every facet of the game. "We played a solid game," Pawlowski said. "The things we talk about, pitching, we won the battle that we always talk about and that's having the ability to throw strikes. We limited the free bases. We played solid defense. Offensively we just did a lot of good things tonight."
In addition to Tella's big night, Auburn got two hits from both Bobby Andrews and Zach Alvord with the sophomore third baseman driving in four with a grand slam. First baseman Garrett Cooper added three RBI with two coming on his fifth home run of the season.
On the mound relievers Slade Smith, Jay Wade and Rocky McCord pitched the final three and two/thirds innings with McCord allowing the only four hits and the final run of the game. Pawlowski said it was Luckie that was the key in helping the Tigers save some arms for this week's series at Arkansas.
"We needed that because our pitching staff was stretched a little bit," Pawlowski said. "We are down a couple of guys. It has been two big days for Cory. On Monday he graduated and today he gets a win. I'm really happy for him and proud of what he's done the last two days and obviously what he did today. To get us deep into the game was very important."
After the visitors got on the board on the first inning with a single run, Auburn answered back in the bottom of the inning thanks to the long ball. With two outs and nobody on Tella singled to right field to bring Cooper to the plate. Getting a pitch to drive, the junior first baseman hit one deep to left field and over the scoreboard for a two-run homer. It was his fifth of the season and made it 2-1 Tigers.
In the second Auburn picked up where it left off as Dan Glevenyak walked to lead off the inning and quickly stole second to move into scoring position. A fly ball to center field by Blake Austin moved the runner to third to bring Andrews to the plate. With the infield playing back, the sophomore left fielder put down a bunt that Presbyterian pitcher Gabe Grammer fielded and threw to the plate. His throw was high however and the error allowed Glevenyak to slide in safely for the 3-1 Auburn lead.
On the play Andrews advanced to second and a ground ball off the bat of Alvord moved the speedster to third with two outs for Jay Gonzalez. The sophomore left fielder came through in the clutch with a single to left field. Now up 4-1, Auburn was looking to extend the lead to give Lucky plenty of cushion to work with.
That came in the fourth inning as the Tigers exploded for four more runs using their speed on the bases. Andrews led off the inning with a single and stole second before moving to third on an Alvord sacrifice bunt. Gonzalez then reached after being hit by a pitch and he also stole second to move into scoring position for Creede Simpson. Lacing a double to right field, Simpson's two RBI made it a five-run advantage for Auburn.
Already with two hits on the night, Tella reached on a bunt single to put runners on the corners. Another stolen base put runners on second and third with Cooper at the plate. A sacrifice fly to left field gave Cooper his third RBI of the game and made it 7-1 Auburn. A pair of wild pitches allowed Tella to score and finish off the inning for the Tigers.
Luckie ran out of gas in the sixth inning as a pair of Blue Hose runners reached with one out to end the senior's night. Smith came on in relief to face right fielder Aaron Preston with runners on first and second and struck him out looking. That brought Jay Lizanich to the plate and on the first pitch Smith got a ground ball to end the threat and keep Auburn up 8-1.
Following a scoreless fifth, the Tigers blew the doors off the hinges in the bottom of the sixth. Already with three runs in the inning they loading the bases for Alvord and the sophomore put the game away with a grand slam over the wall in left field. It was the second home run of the game and the second grand slam of the season for Alvord and it extended the lead to 15-1.
A Tanner Cimo walk kept the inning going for the Tigers and Tella pushed him home with a triple down the right field line. It was the fourth hit of the night for the sophomore center fielder and made the lead 15. Auburn extended the lead to 18-1 with two more runs in the eighth inning before Presbyterian scored a single run in the ninth to finish the night off.
Auburn returns to action Thursday night on ESPNU when the Tigers take on Arkansas in the first of three games on the road in Fayetteville.
Auburn will be without left fielder Cullen Wacker (knee) and pitcher Zach Blatt (arm) for at least this weekend according to Pawlowski. He said both will be evaluated next week to see if they'll be available for the final SEC series of the year against Florida.