Recap: Max Capital City Classic
Wow, well it certainly lived up to its name. Auburn jumped out to an early 4-0 lead thanks to some early wobbles from Alabama pitcher David Head (3ip/3h/5er/3bb) who proceeded to walk the first two guys he faced, give up a single, and an give Auburn and early 3 run lead after Brian Fletchers bases clearing double (which was just inches from being a grand slam).
Auburn would then pad that lead to 4, after a Trent Mummey HR. Then, Alabama finally woke up, and got within one after a Kent Mathes (ye of the national lead in HRs) 3-Run bomb. And lo, the Auburn faithful did start to sweat.
Then, Auburn used a little something we hadn’t seen in a long time from the Tigers: small ball. They actually started to pull away just a little bit more and even used the rare suicide squeeze to do it, when Justin Hargett bunted in Tony Caldwell. All said and done? Auburn now lead 6 to 3 and looked in control for the rest of the night.
Oh, but you knew it was coming didn’t you. You just knew the shades of Tiger’s past would come back and bite us. If you’re like me when you watch a baseball game, you always hold your breath when that call to the bullpen comes out. You want to see just who is going to trot out and be the savior. I’m sure the collective fans in attendance, (especially those who follow regularly), might grimace a little when certain names are called (for me, it’s Scott Shuman, I like the guy, he’s just been struggling). Well, it wouldn’t be Auburn baseball without a bullpen Implosion. And man, did it implode, and at a very inopportune time.
The main problem is that the bullpen was actually looking good. Michael Hurst came in for starter Paul Burnside (4.1ip/4h/3r/0er/85pitches) and got Auburn out of an early bases loaded jam in the bottom of the 5th. Then was pretty solid. Having 3 up 3 down innings in the 6th and 7th. Then, disaster hits.
Enter the bottom of 8th (Auburn was the away team by the way), Auburn holding on to 6-3 lead and Hurst was looking a little gassed. Lead off single by Alabama, then double (RBI) and Alabama is now a little closer at 6-4. So Taylor Thompson comes in and wow, got dinged up: Double, HR (3 RBI), and then a walk. Auburn now trails 7-6 with just 1 inning (the top of the ninth) remaining.
Then, well, magic happened. Zach Blatt came in, and saved the Tiger’s collective tails. Going 2 perfect inning and picking up the win. Let me repeat that. That’s 2 perfect innings against one of the top 25 teams in the country.
But it would have been all for naught, had it not been for some 9th inning heroics. And the process looked grim. Auburn came in, down by a run, running out of outs, and facing a closer for Alabama who hadn’t given up and ER all year. But Auburn did it. Casey McElroy got his first hit of the night, a lead off triple, and was later brought in by a Hargy SAC fly. Mums the doubles, and is Ben Jones gets to play the hero. Hitting an RBI double and giving Auburn an 8-7 lead headed into the bottom of the ninth.
Blatt closed it out perfectly and picked up his first career win.
Overall what a night.
Best of the night was Ben Jones (3-5, 1 RBI, 1r) but Casey McElroy sparking triple in the top of the ninth was clutch and key.
Zach Blatt. 2 ip/0h/0er/2k. Gets his first Auburn win and makes a nice case for closer.
It could have been the rare 5 out of 5 Jobus. (Normally only reserved for SEC games). However, the bullpen implosion prevented that.
-Auburn won it’s first road game of the year last night. We are now 1-3 on the road.
-Zach Blatt has now pitched 4 scoreless, hitless innings, carrying over from the weekend series against Brown.
-Auburn continued some hitting streaks Trent Mummey (13), Brian Fletcher (8), and Casey McElroy (7).
Jay G. Tate also has a nice little blurb about Zach Blatt and his late inning heroics. He also did a liveblog of the game on his “Hottest Auburn Blog on the Net”. Though, I think he needs to follow Auburn baseball a little bit more after reading this:
Casey McElroy leads off with a triple ... and promptly is lifted for a pinch runner. He's the only shortstop on the roster.
The only problem? He’s not. Chezz McCann is his backup. Granted, C-Mac has started every game at SS this year and Chezz has only seen spot work, but Chezz was the SS when Auburn took the field in the bottom of the ninth.
Also lines like:
AUBURN FIFTH: Not much going on.
Are a little unfair. There is ALWAYS something going on in baseball. Although, in his defense, it’s not always noteworthy. Again, I enjoyed the live-blog and the “Hotties” community seemed to enjoy it as well.
Also a lot of Auburn fans were upset over this article about Joseph Sanders where we was “outted” as an Alabama football fan.
My take? Honestly, who cares. It sure hasn’t affected his performance and he has never regretted it:
"I've never regretted for a day in my life coming to Auburn," Sanders said. "I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Two different sports, two different seasons, although it might be hard for some Auburn fans to admit. As long has he bleeds Orange and Blue come baseball season, he’s fine by me.
Finally in other baseball news: Holy Crap. That’s like Alabama A&M beating LSU to advance to a Super Regional.