TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - No. 21 Auburn completed its first sweep of Alabama in Tuscaloosa since 1976 by defeating the Crimson Tide 5-0 in game one and 20-5 in game two of Saturday's doubleheader at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Auburn (29-12, 9-9 SEC) claimed its first series win in Tuscaloosa since 2004 by shutting out Alabama (22-20, 5-13 SEC) for the first time since 1990 and the first time in the Crimson Tide's home ballpark since 1980 in the first game of two.
The Tigers then exploded for the most runs in a game in the rivalry series since 1989, highlighted by an 11-run eighth inning, and completed the series sweep by blowing out the Crimson Tide in the nightcap.
Auburn's 44 runs in the three-game series were the most against Alabama in program history, and the Tigers outscored the Crimson by 34 runs in the three-game set.
"All three games, that was about as complete as we've been and as business-like as I've seen our guys on the road," head coach Butch Thompson said. "We made a big deal about being 1-5 on the road. Pitching wise, our at-bats, even as things were getting out of hand, we stayed locked in. It was a very complete weekend for us. Hopefully we can keep competing hard and stay focused."
With the series sweep, Auburn finds itself just one game out of first place in the jam-packed SEC West with four conference weekends remaining.
The freshman combination of Tanner Burns (3-4, 2.29) and Cody Greenhill sealed the Tigers' second straight SEC series-clinching win as the duo combined to shut out the Crimson Tide while striking out 11 batters.
Auburn struck first for the second straight day as Brett Wright drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the third inning, but the Tigers left the bases loaded as a hard-hit ground ball ended the frame.
After Burns retired the first 11 Crimson Tide batters he faced, Alabama threatened in the bottom of the fourth inning after an infield single and check-swing double put a pair in scoring position. However, Burns stranded a pair with a fastball at the belt that froze Hunter Alexander to end the threat.
The third time through the order, Will Holland got things started in the top of the fifth with a two-out infield single. He advanced to second after making a good read on a ball in the dirt scored on a RBI single to center from Steven Williams. The next pitch, Wright lifted one into no-man's land in shallow center field, allowing Williams to circle the bases from first and make it a 3-0 ballgame.
Auburn added to its lead as Edouard Julien drew the second bases-loaded walk of the game to make it 4-0, but the Tigers left the bases loaded for the second time in the game.
With Greenhill on in relief of Burns in the bottom of the eighth, Alabama loaded the bases with two outs. However, Greenhill went after Crimson Tide four-hole hitter Chandler Taylor and got him to fly out to left to end the threat.
The Tigers added an insurance run on a RBI single from Williams in the top of the ninth before Greenhill struck out the side to close out the win.
Auburn picked up right where it left off in game two as the Tigers jumped out to a lead for the third straight game and never looked back. After Jay Estes and Luke Jarvis started the top of the third with back-to-back singles, Josh Anthony brought them both in on a double down the left-field line. Anthony later came in to score on a sac fly from Williams.
Auburn kept its foot on the pedal in its next at-bat as seven straight Tigers reached with one out against the Alabama bullpen. The big blows in the five-run frame came on a two-RBI double from Jarvis and two-run home run from Anthony. Williams drove in Anthony on a RBI single to right to extend the lead to 8-0.
Alabama cut the lead in half on a two-RBI single from Chandler Avant and two-RBI double from Keith Holcombe in the bottom of the fifth, but Davis Daniel (3-3, 5.02) entered the game with two runners in scoring position and two outs in the fifth inning and held the Tigers' lead at four runs.
After the two teams traded runs in the sixth inning, Daniel induced an inning-ending double play ball in the bottom of the seventh that was aided by a nice turn from Jarvis in the four-hole.
From there, Auburn's offense exploded for the aforementioned 11 runs in the top of the eighth, marking the most runs in an inning since 2000. All-in-all 14 batters came to the plate, and Julien put an exclamation point on the night and the series with a no-doubt home run onto the third level of the grass berm area beyond the right-field fence.
Daniel pitched the final 4.1 innings and picked up the win, while Andrew Mitchell made the start and struck out six batters in 4.1 innings of work.
Williams and Julien each drove in five runs in the doubleheader, while Auburn's six through nine hitters went a combined 10-for-18 with 10 runs and nine RBI in the nightcap. All nine members of Auburn's starting lineup recorded a hit for the second straight day, including three-hit games from Holland, Conor Davis and Estes. Anthony matched a career-high with four RBI in the series finale.
The Tigers return to action with a midweek against Samford (24-16, 10-4 C-USA) Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT at Plainsman Park.