May 31, 2003
Auburn, AL –
Auburn scored 11 runs in the first five innings on its way to a 15-0 win over Clemson Saturday night in the Auburn Regional at Plainsman Park. It was Auburn’s largest margin of victory in the 84-game series between the two schools.
Clemson’s bid for an 18th-consecutive 40-win season fell one win short, as the Tigers finished the year at 39-22. Auburn improved to 42-20 with the win. Auburn must beat Ohio State twice Sunday to advance to the Super Regional round.
Clemson was shutout for the first time in 2003 and ended Clemson’s 84-game streak of scoring at least one run. Clemson was unable to drive a run home when it had a chance, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-9 with runners on base. Meanwhile, Auburn was 9-for-15 (.600) with runners in scoring position and 12-for-21 (.571) with runners on base.
Auburn righty starter Colby Paxton (7-3) pitched a five-hit shutout to earn the win. He also struck out six while walking two. Clemson starter Aaron Trolia (0-1) suffered the loss in his first start as a Tiger.
Auburn took the game’s fist lead in the opening inning. Javon Moran beat out an infield single, stole second, and scored on Tug Hulett’s bloop double down the left-field line. Two batters later, Karl Amonite laced a single up the middle, plating Hulett to give Auburn a 2-0 lead.
Auburn again threatened in the second inning thanks to some well-placed hits. Clete Thomas grounded a slow roller up the middle in which he beat out, stole second, and then advanced to third on Scott Schade’s single through the left side. Derek Sain then grounded into a double play, but Thomas scored on the play to give the SEC Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Auburn scored for the third-straight inning in the third when it plated three runs to take a 6-0 lead. Sean Gamble doubled off the right-field foul line to leadoff and Moran followed with an RBI triple to the right-center gap. Hulett then brought Moran home on an RBI groundout to second base. Huddleston then walked to chase Trolia from the game. Huddleston later scored on a wild pitch by Jeff Hourigan.
Clemson threatened to get on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. David Slevin hit a line drive to Gamble in left, who made a diving catch to rob the Port Saint Lucie, FL native of a hit and the ACC Tigers of a run. The great catch also helped end the senior’s hitting streak at 22 games.
Auburn came right back and took a commanding 10-0 lead in the fourth inning with four runs and a little bit of luck after the first two batters were retired. Moran drew a two-out walk, stole second, and scored on Hulett’s double off the right-center wall. Then on a play that typified the game, Bobby Huddleston hit a slow-roller to Russell Triplett at shortstop. A big piece of the bat broke loose and ended up at Triplett before the ball did. Triplett avoided the piece of the bat, but the ball rolled past him, as Hulett scored from second on the play. The next batter, Amonite, hit a long two-run homer to right-center, the first by Auburn in four games against Clemson this season.
Auburn built on its lead again in the fifth inning with another run. Gamble’s chopper up the middle plated Sain, who hit a one-out single to center.
Clemson once again hit the ball hard and had little to show for it in the sixth inning. Zane Green walked and Johnson hit a rocket, but right at the first baseman, who then stepped on first for the easy double play. Brad McCann then hit another rocket for a base hit to left, extending his hitting streak to 20 games. But Kyle Frank was called out on strikes to end the inning.
For good measure, Schade gave Auburn a 15-0 lead when he hit an opposite-field grand slam in the ninth inning.
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