LEXINGTON, Ky. - No. 19 Auburn split Friday's doubleheader at Kentucky, losing the opener, 5-1, before bouncing back and winning the nightcap, 6-3, at Kentucky Proud Park.
"We did do a good job after a lackluster first game, and we started playing Auburn baseball," head coach Butch Thompson said.
Bobby Peirce led the way with four hits in the two games, while Kason Howell and Garrett Farquhar collected three hits apiece and drove in a pair of runs.
"Gabe (Gross) talks about never coming off the outside fastball, so that's what I tried to stick to today," Farquhar said. "We just keep on working as hard as we can, so we'll go rest up and come back out to try to get the win tomorrow."
Trace Bright (3-4, 4.68) pitched 5.0 innings in game two and earned the win. The junior righty allowed two runs on five hits and struck out five.
The Auburn pitching staff didn't walk a batter in Game Two.
"A big thing for me is getting ahead," Bright said. "It's the thing I was focused on this week, getting ahead and out of that first inning.
"We wanted that game right there to set us up things for Joseph (Gonzalez) to have a nice outing tomorrow," Bright added.
Auburn threatened out of the gate, loading the bases with one out in the first, but couldn't capitalize on the early opportunity as back-to-back strikeouts ended the frame. Kentucky answered with a two-out RBI double in the home half of the first to start the scoring before doubling its lead with a two-out bunt single in the second.
Trailing 2-0, the Tigers again threatened as a pair of baserunners moved into scoring position on wild pitch with one out in the fourth, but both were stranded on a strikeout and flyout.
The Wildcats added to their advantage with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. A leadoff double resulted in the first run of the frame and a two-out double added another. Three of Kentucky's first four runs came with two outs.
Auburn got on the scoreboard with two-out RBI double from Farquhar in the sixth. Howell and Mason Land reached on back-to-back singles before Farquhar delivered.
However, Kentucky got the run right back after a leadoff walk came back to bite the Tigers in the bottom of the inning.
The bullpen did its part, holding Kentucky to one run on four hits in the final 4.2 innings, but the Tigers managed just four hits from the plate.
Similar to Game One, Auburn threatened early with five baserunners in the first two innings but couldn't push any across home plate.
Bright retired the first four batters he faced in just 11 pitches, but Kentucky got on the scoreboard with a one-out solo homer in the second.
However, the Tigers responded in a big way with five two-out runs on four hits in the next two at-bats. Howell got the scoring started with a two-RBI double to left center and Farquhar followed with a base hit to the opposite gap to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
After the first two batters of the fourth were retired, Sonny DiChiara drew his fifth walk of the series before Peirce tripled to center to extend the lead. Brooks Carlson capped off the third with a two-out single to center.
The Wildcats got a run back with a one-out double in the fourth, but Bright set the home team down in order in the fifth.
Carson Swilling relieved Bright after a leadoff baserunner in the sixth and worked a scoreless frame before Kentucky cut the Tigers' lead to two with a solo homer in the seventh.
Blake Burkhalter entered and faced the minimum in the eighth thanks to another caught stealing from Nate LaRue, and Auburn added to its advantage with a run in the ninth. With runners on first and third and one out, Brody Moore executed a safety squeeze to score Peirce and extend the lead to 6-3.
Burkhalter then retired the Wildcats in order in the ninth to earn his SEC-best 13th save of the season. The junior is now tied for third in program history in single-season saves.
The series finale between the Tigers and Wildcats is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.