Tigers shut down Tide in Capital City Classic

The Tigers claim their 3rd Straight Capital City Classic.

MONTGOMERY – Auburn made it three for three against rival Alabama in the Capital City Classic on Tuesday night.

And this time, the Tigers did it with pitching.

Four Auburn pitchers combined to hold Alabama to one run on four hits, striking out six and picking up a 2-1 win in front of 7,492 fans at Riverwalk Stadium.

The No. 24 Tigers (12-5) won the first two editions the annual Capital City Classic, 8-7 and 8-6.

“Runs were tough to come by from both sides,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “Every guy that went out there was very tough, and I was very pleased with what our guys did.”

Starter Will Irvin gave up a run on two hits over the first two innings, a short outing by design, and Bradley Hendrix gave up a hit and struck out three over the middle three innings. Andrew Morris surrendered a hit over two innings, and Zach Blatt closed out the Tide with a perfect eighth and ninth.

Alabama’s run came in the first, when Austen Smith singled in Brock Bennett, who finished 2-for-2, to put the Crimson Tide (11-6) ahead heading into the second inning.

That lead lasted all of two pitches, as Auburn’s Dan Gamache launched a home run, his second of the year, over the right-field wall to knot the game up at 1-1.

Gamache, the game’s MVP, finished the night 2-for-4, making him 9-for-18 with 10 RBI in the past four games.

“I’ve been watching what I swing at as of late, more than I was at the beginning of the season,” Gamache said. “Lately I’ve just been waiting for my pitch.”

Wes Gilmer, who also went 2-for-4, followed Gamache with a single and came around to score on Brooks Beisner’s two-out double to right-center to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Alabama threatened in the third, getting runners on second and third with one out, but Hendrix forced a groundout and strikeout to escape the inning unscathed.

The Tide had a runner on second and one out against Blatt in the eighth, but the Tigers reliever got a line drive double play to preserve the lead.

Blatt closed out Alabama in the ninth, striking out two, earning his first save in the season and putting together his second straight two-inning, scoreless appearance.

“The first three (outings) kind of put me in the dumps,” Blatt said of his 8.31 ERA over his first three appearances this year. “I was definitely down in a hole. To get back out there and get things rolling in the right direction, it feels good.”

The Tigers’ pitchers spoiled a sterling start from Alabama hurler Taylor Wolfe (1-2), who gave up two runs on four hits through six innings, striking out eight.

“We haven’t finished on the good end three years in a row,” Tide coach Mitch Gaspard said. “But this is a fun game for our players and the fans. It’s something I know myself and John want to continue on.

“And when it’s played gives us a good indication leading into SEC play where you’re at, the things you need to continue to get better on.”

Tigers starting shortstop Casey McElroy took a cleat just above the chin while tagging out a runner trying to steal second in the fifth inning and had to leave the game.

Pawlowski said the cut would probably require some stitches, and he didn’t know about McElroy’s status for the Tigers’ SEC-opening series against Arkansas starting Friday.

His players were more certain.

“Couple of stitches and good to go?” Pawlowski asked, looking at Morris, Blatt and Gamache nodding to his right at the post-game press conference.

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