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March 5, 2013

Tigers win fifth straight Capital City Classic

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Conner Kendrick struck out eight batters and pitched six innings of hitless ball in relief of starter Dillon Ortman, and Auburn defeated Alabama 6-3 in the Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery.

Auburn struck first with a one-run fourth inning on a sac fly from Jordan Ebert that scored Garrett Cooper.

Alabama answered with a strong bottom half of the fourth. After getting two walks, Austen Smith launched a double to left field, scoring two and giving the Tide a 2-1 lead. Shortstop Dan Glevenyak then botched a ground ball, allowing Kyle Overstreet to reach first while Kenny Roberts scored to make it 3-1.

Auburn regained the lead with three runs in the fifth. Glevenyak scored on a Cullen Wacker groundout to second. Alabama returned the favor with a costly error of its own, allowing Cooper to reach first on a routine groundball and Ryan Tella to score from third to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.

"I thought our team responded," head coach John Pawlowski said. "I thought that was one of the biggest things we did today. We made some mistakes. We got down 3-1. They were very resilient, they responded, the came back and we just found a way to win today."

Kendrick, who was named the Capital City Classic MVP, breezed through his six innings of relief, giving up no hits and one walk. Opponents are hitting just .078 off Kendrick on the year, and he's pitched 16.1 innings of scoreless ball while only giving up four hits and five walks.

"I just felt like I had the command of more than one pitch tonight," Kendrick said. "I throw them at different situations. I can go fastball, I can go changeup. I had a pretty good curveball tonight. Just the mix of those pitched kind of helped out tonight for me."

Cooper added some insurance in the ninth when he lined a single into left field with the bases loaded, scoring two and extending Auburn's lead to 6-3.

"My first bat, I came up with the bases loaded and didn't come through," Cooper said. "And the last bat, we were up one, I was looking for something to hit and he left a hanging slider, two strikes, and all I did was try to put the bat on the ball."

Kendrick finished the game with a three-up, three-down inning and capped it off by getting Georgie Salem to strike out swinging.

"I think I kind of lack for words the job that Conner Kendrick did," Pawlowski said. "What a masterful performance. And certainly, I can't say enough about the way our team responded and certainly these guys were a major part of it."



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