Auburn, Ala.--Auburn pitchers Grant Dayton, Evan Crawford and Bryan Woodall combined to allow the second-ranked Kentucky Wildcats just seven hits as the Tigers got their first SEC win of the season in a 2-0 shutout Friday night at Plainsman Park.
Kentucky stranded 12 runners in its first loss of the season to fall to 19-1 while Auburn improves to 13-8, 1-3 in the league.
The story of the game was on the mound for the Tigers as Dayton earned his second win of the season as he allowed six hits and no runs in six innings of work.
Crawford walked four, but didn't allow a hit in one and one/third innings while Woodall was dominant, allowing just one hit and striking out three in one and two/thirds. Slater said his pitchers did the job on Friday night to get the win by holding down a powerful Kentucky offense.
"Grant was outstanding and did exactly what we look for him to do," Auburn Coach Tom Slater said. "We want our starters to try to give us six. The back end of the game belongs to Crawford and Woodall. Grant did a great job. Evan wasn't as sharp as he's been all year, but Bryan picked him up tonight. Bryan did a tremendous job and again we played great defense behind our guys."
It was a particularly impressive outing for Dayton. Last weekend at Florida Dayton was roughed up by the Gators in the fourth after three solid innings to start. This time out he was able to keep his cool on the mound despite a rough start in the first.
"We needed that win especially in the SEC," Dayton said. "It didn't matter who it was, it was an SEC win and it felt great. We needed it for our confidence for this team. We went out there and had to hit and not put fly balls in the air. We knew we had to shut them down defensively and that's what we did tonight."
Auburn got on the board early in the bottom of the first, but not before the Wildcats threatened off Dayton. With one out in the first Collin Cowgill ripped a double off the wall in left to get things started for Kentucky. After hitting the next batter with a pitch, Dayton gave up a single to Sawyer Carroll to left field, but Cowgill was held at third to load the bases with just one out.
Dayton recovered, however, to retire the next two hitters and keep Kentucky scoreless in the first.
"That was tough," Dayton said. "They are real good hitters. They were up on the plate and I hit that one guy. That first inning I think I had 27 pitches. That kind of killed me for the first. We put that run up and it brought me back to life. Everybody was alive in the dugout. It was great."
Trent Mummey celebrates a first inning double.
In the bottom of the inning true freshman Trent Mummey was the catalyst for the Tigers as he worked the count full to lead off the first before drilling a double to right field. Moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Justin Hargett, Mummey crossed the plate after a Mike Bianucci infield single. Hunter Morris followed with a single of his own, but that was it as Auburn failed to score again and led 1-0 after one.
The Tigers missed a golden opportunity in the second as a Luke Greinke leadoff double was wasted with strikeouts by Ryan Jenkins and Matt Hall followed by a Mummey groundout. It wasn't wasted in the fourth though as a two out single by Jenkins set the table for Hall. Struggling for much of the season, Hall had two hits on Tuesday night against Troy and continued his good play with a double to center field. Jenkins scored on the play to make it 2-0 Tigers.
"It's great to finally get a win," Hall said. "We've been playing great as a team. We came out against Troy the other night and played our tails off. Our goal for that game was to play hard for nine innings and set the tone for the rest of the SEC and start with Kentucky tonight."
Mike Bianucci legs out one of his three hits on the night.
Dayton cruised through six innings with Crawford coming on in the seventh. He immediately got himself into trouble as he walked the first two hitters he faced to bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate. Striking out Cowgill for out one, Crawford then threw a wild pitch to put the tying run on second, but recovered to get the next two Kentucky hitters and keep the game scoreless.
He did the same thing in the eighth as he walked two with one out to bring his day to an end. Woodall came on to save the day though as he got a double play ground ball from shortstop Chris Wade to end the inning and hold the lead at 2-0. Despite allowing a hit in the ninth, Woodall closed the door on the win and said the eighth inning was the key for him.
"I knew they had a good hitter at the plate and we had one out with runners on first and second," Woodall said. "I started him off with a slider and then we called a fastball in. I really wanted to throw a hard sinker down in the zone. I really wanted to put a ball on the ground because our defense is outstanding. I knew if I got a ground ball we would get out of the inning. That's what happened."
At the plate Auburn was led by Bianucci with three hits while Morris added two as the Tigers finished with 11 hits as a team. Keenan Wiley was the only Wildcat with two hits as Auburn held the league's top offensive team to just seven hits. Chris Rusin picked up the loss for Kentucky, giving up 11 hits and two runs in eight innings on 123 pitches.
Auburn will try to win the second game of the series on Saturday at 3 p.m. when freshman Cory Luckie takes the mound against Scott Green for Kentucky.