Auburn defeats Alabama 5-1 to begin rivalry series

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AUBURN, Ala. – A complete effort in all three aspects of the game led Auburn to a 5-1 win against Alabama in the series opener Friday night at Plainsman Park.

The Tigers (28-17, 11-11 SEC) turned in double-digit hits, including five for extra-bases, while the pitching staff held the opponent to one run or fewer for the 10th time this season. Defensively, Auburn also matched a season-high with three double plays.

“Offense, defense and pitching; we hung in there,” head coach Butch Thompson said on the Auburn Sports Network. “I want us to stay locked in and focused and keep doing that. It shows what can happen when we play in all three phases. All in all, we played at a higher speed and a higher tempo being back home.”

Sophomore Jack Owen (4-0, 0.70) earned the win in his first start since Mar. 16. The left-hander pitched 5.0 innings and allowed one run on five hits with a pair of walks.

“It felt good,” Owen said. “I struggled with my command a little bit, but my defense helped me out, which was big time.”

Auburn wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as the Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Matt Scheffler got the scoring started on a sacrifice fly to left-center before Woley drove in another on a double to the same part of the park.

Owen held Alabama scoreless in the first three frames, but the Crimson Tide cut into the lead with a run in the fourth.

The Tigers answered in the bottom of the fifth as Woley drove in two more runs on a double to right field. It was Woley’s second game this season with two doubles. He has driven in six runs in the last two games.

“I knew I wanted to get on one,” Woley said. “I wanted to jump on a fastball if it was there. That’s something I’ve been trying to work on these past couple of week is hitting the fastball early and not worry about the breaking ball.”

The Tigers capped off the scoring in the contest as Ryan Bliss and Edouard Julien hit back-to-back extra-base hits in the bottom of the eighth.

Sophomore reliever Cody Greenhill entered the game in the top of the ninth and worked a perfect frame to finish off the game.

Woley’s 3-for-4 night with two doubles and three RBI highlighted the team’s offensive effort, while Bliss added a pair of hits and scored a pair of runs.

Auburn and Alabama continue the three-game series tomorrow at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

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