Luke Jarvis helped guarantee Auburn will carry an unbeaten record into the third weekend of the 2018 baseball season.
The senior leadoff man slammed a three-run homer in the top of the eighth on Tuesday night, lifting No. 18 Auburn to a 7-6 victory over No. 11 South Alabama at Stanky Field in Mobile. The Tigers move to 9-0 on the season, while the Jaguars fall to 7-2.
The game was played before a stadium record crowd of 4,508. That eclipsed the previous mark of 4,437 set against Alabama in 2009.
“What a great environment,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “Our players knew they were playing a Top 15 team. Both teams had great moments and both teams had some not-so-great moments.
“It was our first road win and our first win here since 2007. Just to be able to find a way to get the last out in a game like this is big for us.”
Auburn scored four runs in the eighth off South Alabama relievers Chase Shell and Chase Lambert, erasing a 4-3 deficit. Brett Wright’s RBI single tied the game at 4-4 with one out and sent Shell (0-1) to the dugout.
Will Holland then beat out a bunt single to bring up Jarvis, who ripped an 0-1 curveball from Lambert over the left-center field wall. It was his first homer of the season, the sixth of his two-year Auburn career.
“I read the scouting report and it said (Lambert) loved off-speed and would double and triple it up,” Jarvis said. “I just kind of guessed and he threw it right where I could hit it. I put a good swing on it, but none of that’s possible without Jay (Estes) getting on and Brett Wright’s hit. It was a great team win.”
South Alabama got back within a run in the eighth, when Hunter Stokes hammered the first pitch from Auburn’s Cody Greenhill for a two-run double. Greenhill shut the door after that, retiring three of four to finish the eighth and three of four in the ninth to end the game.
South Alabama missed plenty of opportunities at the plate, leaving 11 runners on base and striking out 12 times. The Jaguars failed to score in the first three innings despite an extra-base hit in each.
“We left too many men on base and struck out too many times,” South Alabama coach Mark Calvi said. “We competed like crazy, but we didn’t play a complete baseball game. You have to play a complete baseball game to beat a team like that, and we didn’t tonight.”
Auburn scored single runs in the first, second and fourth innings off South Alabama starter Tyler Perez. The Tigers cashed in with RBI singles by Josh Anthony, Holland and Brendan Venter, chasing Perez after four.
Auburn starter Andrew Mitchell blanked the Jaguars through four, allowing just three hits and striking out six. Reliever Elliott Anderson (1-0) picked up the win, with Greenhill — a freshman from Russellville — getting his first career save.
“(Greenhill) is up three, and then after his first pitch he’s up one,” Thompson said. “He’s young, but he showed me something. He’s mature and competes beyond his years. He really settled in and let his defense play.”
South Alabama got to Auburn reliever Welby Malczewski for four runs in the fifth, scoring all its runs with two outs. The Jaguars’ first run scored on a balk, which sent Paul Russo home from third and made it a 3-1 game.
Wells Davis then added an RBI single to make it 3-2 and chase Malczewski. After a walk re-loaded the bases, Michael Sandle’s 2-run single off Calvin Coker gave USA a 4-3 lead.
Sandle went 3-for-5 to lead the way for South Alabama, while All-America center fielder Travis Swaggerty went 2-for-2 with a double and three walks.
South Alabama hits the road for a huge series this weekend, taking on No. 3 Texas Tech for four games beginning Friday in Lubbock, Texas. Auburn hosts BYU for three games, also beginning Friday.
San Francisco Giants infielder Josh Rutledge poses for a photo during team picture day on Feb. 20, 2018.
A federal judge recommends Auburn’s motion to dismiss the discrimination lawsuit of former assistant track coach Adrian Ghioroaie, right, be granted in part and dismissed in part because he made “plausible” claims of discrimination and retaliation in his complaint against the school, Auburn assistant track coach Henry Rolle, left, and head coach Ralph Spry.