AUBURN, Ala. - Three pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts as No. 17 Auburn defeated Samford, 4-1, Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.
Mason Barnett, Chase Allsup and Jordan Armstrong combined to go the distance, holding Samford scoreless in the final eight frames. The 17 strikeouts were the second most in a game this season.
"All in all, this was very business-like, and we were able to get a win," head Coach Butch Thompson said. "We found a way to play clean baseball defensively and scored three of the last four innings."
Samford (15-15) put its first three batters aboard and scored on a double play in the opening frame, but Barnett (2-1, 4.70) kept the Bulldogs scoreless through the rest of his outing. The right-hander ultimately recorded six strikeouts in five innings, retiring his final eight batters.
"I give Mason credit," Thompson added. "He came back with four more innings. His stuff got better and better and he threw more strikes while being able to land all three pitches."
"I was kind of out of rhythm to start the first," Barnett said. "Then, I was able to make a couple of pitches to get soft contact and got that double play which was huge. That kind of got me going from there."
With Barnett keeping Samford in check on the mound, Auburn (23-10) evened the score with a run in the third. Kason Howell hit a one-out single off the wall in left field and stole second before Cam Hill drove him in with a RBI single.
The scoring continued in the fifth inning after the Tigers loaded the bases. Brody Moore hit a single to right field, bringing in Jake Wyandt from third to take a 2-1 lead.
Allsup entered in for relief to start the sixth inning, and the freshman struck out a career best five of the eight batters he faced in two scoreless innings.
Auburn added to its advantage in the bottom of the seventh. Howell hit a leadoff triple to deep right field and ultimately scored on a RBI groundout to first from Brody Moore, his second RBI of the contest.
"It's very important to stay consistent at the plate," Howell said. "When you have a pitching performance like our staff did tonight, it's our job as hitters to score more runs than the other team."
Bobby Peirce added some insurance to the Tigers' lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth. The homer was the first of Peirce's Auburn career and capped off the scoring for the game.
Armstrong entered for the final two innings and struck out the last six batters he faced to earn his first save of the season.
Howell and Moore both recorded two hits on the night, with one extra-base hit apiece. Blake Rambusch recorded his SEC-best 52nd hit of the season with a single in the eighth.
"We have a lot of confidence on this team," Howell said. "We have a lot of focus on the daily things and letting the score take care of itself, which gives us that confidence."
Auburn will be on the road this weekend for a Thursday-Saturday series against Mississippi State. Thursday's first pitch is set for 6 pm C.T. on SEC Network.