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Auburn claims series in 11-5 win vs. Vanderbilt

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AUBURN, Ala. – No. 20 Auburn got out to an early lead for the second straight day and claimed its first series win against No. 17 Vanderbilt since 2009 by defeating the Commodores, 11-5, Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park.

Right-hander Tanner Burns (4-4, 3.00) picked up the win after throwing 5.0 innings and allowing four runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Fellow freshman Cody Greenhill pitched the final 3.1 frames and didn’t allow a run as he earned his fourth save of the season, including his first in Southeastern Conference play.

Offensively, all nine members of the Auburn (33-14, 12-11 SEC) starting lineup recorded a hit for the fourth time in the last three weekends and the fifth time this season. All nine position players also scored a run, and the team’s four through eight hitters drove in 11 against the Commodores (25-21, 11-12 SEC).

“It’s a good time to play well,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “We won a series at home, but we have a long way to go. When you are playing good baseball, you just have to keep it going. We did get up 7-2 off of Julien’s big home run. That was a huge one to opposite field and a pretty deep one. I tip my hat to Vandy. Their at-bats got tremendous in the middle of the ballgame. They put their head on the barrel and had great two strike approaches.”

Auburn had the bats going early and often in the game as Jay Estes got things going with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the first inning. It was the second straight day the Tigers scored in the first inning, and the team improved to 16-1 when doing so this season.

After Vanderbilt got both runs back with a solo home run and RBI single in the top of the second, Auburn exploded for five runs in the home half of the frame and never looked back. Brendan Venter opened the inning with a solo home run of his own – his eighth of the season – and Edouard Julien finished it off with a grand slam that hit off the clock above the videoboard in left-center field. It was Julien’s second grand slam of the year and his team leading 12th home run. His 12 home runs are the most by an Auburn freshman since Todd Faulkner hit 20 home runs during his redshirt freshman season in 1998. The Quebec City native now has 50 RBI on the season, marking the most by a freshman nationally and the most by an Auburn freshman since 1999.

Vanderbilt cut into the lead in the sixth inning after a single and double started the frame and ran Burns from the game. With Elliott Anderson on in relief, the Commodores scored both inherited runners on a pair of sacrifice flies and cut the lead to 8-5 on a RBI double from Garrett Blaylock. With runners on second and third and two outs, Greenhill entered the game and got Julian Infante to fly out to right on the first pitch to escape the jam.

The Commodores threatened again in their next at-bat as Austin Martin hit a leadoff single and advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt. However, Greenhill buckled down to get the two outs he needed and strand runners on the corners.

Auburn added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two-out, two-RBI single from Luke Jarvis before Greenhill finished things off with a 1-2-3 ninth.

This marks the fourth straight weekend Burns and Greenhill have combined to lead the Tigers to a SEC win, three of which clinched the series. In the previous three outings against Mississippi State, Alabama and Florida, the freshman duo combined to pitch all 9.0 innings.

Auburn will look to complete the sweep of the Commodores tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. CT. Southpaw Andrew Mitchell (0-1, 3.28) will be on the mound for the Tigers as Mason Hickman (7-1, 3.78) will start for Vanderbilt.

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