AUBURN, Ala. -- With one out and the bases loaded in the final frame on Tuesday night, Smiths Station pitcher Marc Skinner was trying to finish a gem, despite the best efforts of a pesky Auburn High team.
Panthers coach Clinton Britton trotted out to the mound, said a few words to his pitcher and headed back to the dugout. Skinner proceeded to throw six strikes in seven pitches to close out the Tigers for an 8-1 win on the road.
"I guess I was a little hyped," said Skinner, who got the win in a complete game, striking out 12 Tigers. "He told me to calm down and not worry about the runners."
The win was the first in the area for No. 1 Smiths Station (18-4, 1-0), getting the most important part of its schedule started well. It was also the Panthers first at Auburn since 2005, according to Britton. The two teams will play a doubleheader to finish a three-game series on Wednesday at Smiths Station.
Skinner's efforts on the mound were greatly assisted by an offensive outburst that began in the second inning for Smiths Station.
With one out in the inning, Ty Galliher reached on an error, followed by singles from Caleb Lynn and Chance Osborne to score the first run. With two on and one out, Tyler Lynn got a hold of a pitch, sending it over the outfield wall for a three-run home run, giving Smiths Station an early 4-0 lead.
"When Tyler hit the three-run home run, it took a lot
of the pressure off," Britton said. "Auburn is a team that can put a lot of pressure on you."
After a scoreless third, the Panthers tacked on three more in the fourth. Osborne reached base on a fielder's choice, then proceeded to steal second and third base. An errant throw from the Tigers catcher on the steal of third brought Osborne across the plate. Two batters later, Skinner started some two-out magic with a single to center. Dylan Tomlin drove him in with a double, followed by an RBI double from Ulysses Fluellen.
Smiths Station scored one more in the fifth to give itself an 8-0 lead, which was more than enough offense for Skinner.
Lynn was 1 for 4 with his three-run home run. Tomlin was 2 for 4 with an RBI and Fluellen was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
"We hit all the way through the lineup tonight," Britton said. "All our hitters have the capability of putting together good ballgames, and they did it tonight."
Skinner allowed just a single run in the fifth and ran into minor trouble in the seventh.
The rest of the time, he was nothing short of dominant in picking up the win, his fourth of the season.
"He pitched a great game," Britton said. "He threw strikes and had command of three different pitches."
Skinner said the fact the team had gone winless in Auburn for awhile was extra motivation for the game.
"Auburn is a tough team to beat," he said.
"It was important to jump on them and get ahead in the area."
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Tuesday at Auburn
Smiths 040 310 0--7 9 2
Auburn 000 010 0--1 5 2
WP--Marc Skinner. LP--Zach Pope. Hitting leaders--Smiths Station, Tyler Lynn 1-4, 3-R HR, Dylan Tomlin 2-4, 2B, RBI, Ulysses Fluellen 1-3, 2B, RBI. Records--Smiths Station, 18-4, 1-0 Class 6A Area 5; Auburn 8-13, 0-1. Next--Smiths Station vs. Auburn on Wednesday (DH, 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.).