Russell County pair lead Alabama to win over Auburn in SEC tournament

Anniston StarMay 21, 2013 

HOOVER, Ala. -- A Russell County High combo was too much for Auburn on Tuesday at the SEC baseball tournament.

Jay Shaw pitched five shut out innings in relief and Ray Castillo finished the final inning as Alabama eliminated Auburn 6-3 in the first round, which was a series of four single-elimination games.

Shaw (2-1) allowed four hits and a walk. He also struck out one.

Castillo earned his 11th save of the season by pitching a perfect ninth, striking out one.

Alabama will play second-seed LSU at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The win boosted seventh-seeded Alabama's NCAA hopes, while putting Auburn squarely on the bubble.

"Personally, I feel like we've done enough to get in (the NCAA tournament)," Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. "At the same time, you don't want to leave anything to chance."

Auburn (33-23), the 10 seed, hopes for an at-large NCAA tournament bid but must wait six days for Monday's announcement of the NCAA field.

"Everyone's disappointed, but I certainly hope we continue to play," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said.

Alabama entered the SEC tourney at No. 28 in the Boyd's World pseudo RPI, and Auburn was No. 32. Both teams finished the regular season with losing SEC records, Alabama at 14-15 and Auburn 13-17.

Tuesday's clash of in-state rivals was seen as a potential play-in game for the NCAA field.

Auburn took a 3-1 lead through the third inning against starter Justin Kamplain.

Shaw relieved Kamplain and lasted for his longest outing in two years.

"He's been pitching well," Gaspard said. "He's given up one run in his last 15 innings.

"He's been more of a two-inning type of guy for us. Once he got through two innings, I was a little concerned. He stayed at it. He found a way to get to that eighth inning."

Auburn reliever Reid Carter (1-2) was responsible for the go-ahead run, but most of Alabama's eighth-inning action came against closer Terrance Dedrick.

Pawlowski went to Dedrick after Alabama's Austin Smith led off with an infield single, but Brett Booth's hit-and-run double to right field and an intentional walk to Andrew Miller loaded the bases.

Booth's double "really opened the door for them to win," Pawlowski said.

Chance Vincent then hit a ball up the middle, and Auburn second baseman Jordan Ebert made a sliding attempt to stop it. The ball came out of Ebert's glove, and Smith scored the go-ahead run.

"I knew I had to get the job done," Vincent said. "At my last at bat, I knew I had to get something done."

Kenny Roberts delivered a sacrifice fly to score another run, and the third run of the inning scored on Dedrick's wild pitch.

Smith's run-scoring double in the sixth inning tied the game, and Booth hit a run-scoring single in the fourth.

Auburn put up a three-run third inning to take the lead. Walks to Cullen Wacker and Garrett Cooper set up Patrick Savage's run-scoring single, Dan Glevenyak's sacrifice fly to score Cooper and Ebert's single to plate Savage.

The Tigers had other chances, getting at least two runners on in each of the first three innings, a lead-off single from Damek Tomscha in the fourth and another from Cooper in the fifth.

Hunter Kelley, Auburn's starting right-fielder and lead-off hitter, singled with one out in the seventh and advanced to second on Wacker's single, but Alabama turned a spectacular double play to end the threat. Shortstop Mike White made a diving stop and glove flip to second baseman Kyle Overstreet, who made the force and throw to first.

"I had guys making plays behind me," said Shaw, who improved to 2-1. "It's easy to pitch when you've got guys who are making these kinds of plays."

Alabama took a 1-0 lead on Ben Moore's grounder to plate Roberts in the first inning. Moore, a sophomore from Cullman playing in his first SEC tourney, went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.

"The first SEC tournament is a dream for me," he said. "It's something I've been looking forward to my whole life.

"This is a great team win. Our back isn't against the wall. We're in the tournament."

Gaspard said he will likely get into his normal rotation now that Alabama has advanced, meaning right-hander Charley Sullivan against LSU and righty Spencer Turnbill next.

The Tide hopes to keep improving its NCAA tourney resume.

"I felt like a win today would certainly solidify us getting in," Gaspard said. "Good play in this tournament could potentially move you from a three seed to a two seed.

"We feel pretty comfortable about getting into a regional."

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service