MOBILE, Ala. - A four-run eighth inning lifted Auburn to a hard-fought, come-from-behind win at No. 23 South Alabama as the Tigers defeated the Jaguars, 7-6, at Stanky Field Tuesday night.
Trailing 4-3 in the top of the eighth inning, Brett Wright tied the game with a RBI single down the third-base line and Luke Jarvis delivered the big blow with a three-run home run to left field two batters later. The win was Auburn's third one-run victory and third this season when tied or trailing in the eighth inning.
With the victory in its first road contest of 2018, Auburn improves to 9-0 and continues its best start to a season since beginning the 2001 season 13-0. It marks the sixth time in program history the team has started a season 9-0 or better. The win was also Auburn's first at Stanky Field since 2007.
"We came out and started the game with really good at-bats against a good ball club," head coach Butch Thompson said. "There were some moments when both teams played great, and there were some moments when both teams did not. We battled on the road for the first time and our guys held up well. Our team has a good attitude late, and we had the sense our guys were hanging in there."
After taking the three-run lead in the eighth, South Alabama cut into the Tigers advantage on a two-run double in the home half of the frame. However, freshman Cody Greenhill buckled down to strand a runner in scoring position, record the final six outs of the game and earn the first save of his collegiate career.
Left-hander Elliot Anderson (2-0, 5.40) earned the win in relief, and South Alabama's Chase Schell (0-1, 3.72) suffered the loss.
The Tigers wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard as Josh Anthony stepped to the plate with two on and two out in the top of the first and ripped the first pitch he saw from South Alabama starter Tyler Perez into center field to score Steven Williams from second.
Auburn doubled its lead an inning later with three straight hits to start the inning, including a RBI single from Will Holland to nearly the same spot in center field. However, the Tigers ran into a pair of outs on the bases to squander a potential big inning.
After Jarvis reached on a two-out error in the top of the fourth, Williams and Brendan Venter swung on back-to-back pitches from Perez and reached on a pair of singles, including a RBI knock into left field off the bat of Venter. It was Venter's fifth multi-hit game in the last six contests.
Welby Malczewski replaced Auburn left-hander Andrew Mitchell to start the bottom of the fifth and retired the first two batters he faced. However, six straight South Alabama hitters reached and the Jaguars took the lead on a two-RBI single from Michael Sandle.
Mitchell pitched 4.0 scoreless innings and allowed three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He has now pitched 9.1 scoreless innings this season with 16 strikeouts.
Offensively, Wright and Holland matched Venter with a pair of hits. Venter extended his hitting streak to six games while Holland and Conor Davis each reached base for the ninth straight game to start the season.
Auburn returns to Plainsman Park for a three-game series vs. BYU this weekend. The series opener is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. CT followed by a double header Saturday starting at noon.