Auburn evens series with Alabama in Game Two Win
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Auburn jumped out to a one-run lead on a solo home run from Tyler Miller in the first and never relinquished its advantage, ultimately defeating Alabama 5-4 Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Jack Owen (1-2, 7.36) earned his first win of the season in the quality start. The senior lefty pitched a season high 7.0 innings and struck out a season high eight batters. He allowed three runs on eight hits with one walk. Freshman righty Carson Swilling pitched the final 2.0 innings and struck out three en route to earning his first collegiate save.
“Jack just did a great job and gave Swilling a short rope, something that he could finish,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “It was nice to only use two guys tonight and we have an opportunity to come out and win a series tomorrow.”
Owen’s eight strikeouts in the contest were the second most by an Auburn starter this season, and the Tigers struck out double digit batters for the second straight night.
“It feels really good,” Owen added. “I’m glad we could do it for the whole team. It was a big game that we needed to win. Swilling comes in and does his job and the offense did a really good job. Steven was working really well with me tonight and it so it was a lot of fun and I’m glad we got the “W.”
Kason Howell highlighted the Auburn (14-17, 2-12 SEC) offense for the second straight night, collecting multiple hits in the game and recording his 100th career high with a one-out single in the second. Howell is now 5-for-8 in two games against the Crimson Tide (21-13, 6-8 SEC).
“It was good to finally get a result that we know we should have had in the past,” Howell said. “All the hard work we’ve put in and all the close calls. Tonight just felt like it was our night to get what we honestly deserved after everything we’ve been through and it felt really good.”
Miller got things started as he deposited the second pitch her saw from Alabama starter Dylan Smith (0-4, 2.92) into the Auburn bullpen to put the Tigers ahead. The home run was Miller’s team best 10th of the year.
Howell stayed hot from the plate, lacing a one-out single back up the middle in the second for his 100th career hit. Two batters later, Bryson Ware hit a hanging breaking ball over the fence in left center to extend the lead to 3-0. The homer was Ware’s sixth of the season and his fourth in the last six games.
Alabama answered with a RBI single that followed a pair of wild pitches in the home half, but Steven Williams got the run back on a solo home run in the fifth, the 30th of his career, to make it a 4-1 ballgame. It was Williams’ third straight game with a home run, becoming the first Auburn player to homer in three straight games this season.
The Crimson Tide cut Auburn’s lead to one on a hit-by-pitch and three single in the bottom of the frame. However, Owen settled down to strike out the side in the sixth and allowed just a two-out single in the seventh before giving way to Swilling. Auburn added an insurance run after Brody Moore’s leadoff double in the eighth. The Tigers threatened to score more, but a nice play on a sharp grounder resulted in an inning-ending double play. Swilling entered in relief of Owen and worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning. He allowed a leadoff single to start the ninth and Alabama cut the lead to one on an earned run, but Swilling buckled down to strike out two-hole hitter William Hamiter to end the game.
The series finale between the in-state rivals is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. CT.