TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Justin Kamplain held Auburn to one run in a career-high 8.2 innings to help lift the ninth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to a 4-1 Southeastern Conference win on Saturday night in front of 6,142 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama (23-11, 9-5 SEC) and Auburn (21-15, 6-8) will meet again at The Joe for the rubber game on Sunday, with first pitch set 1:05 p.m.
"It starts on the mound and Justin Kamplain was just outstanding," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He had really good fastball command and he got in advantage counts all night. At the midway point, he really found his breaking ball as well and had a great three pitch mix and he competed like crazy all night. We really tried to let him finish and we extended his pitch count a little bit. I know he wanted to finish it, but wasn't quite able to do it. (Thomas) Burrows was able to come in a lock it down for us."
In his ninth start of the year, Kamplain (3-2) earned the win with Auburn only run of the game coming in the ninth inning. Kamplain gave up three hits (two in the ninth) with five strikeouts, three walks and a pair of hit batters. The south paw from Jasper held the Tigers without a hit in the first five innings before miscommunication on a bunt single allowed Jordan Ebert to reach safely in the sixth.
Kamplain turned in a seven-inning no-hit outing earlier in the season when the Tide combined to no-hit Mississippi Valley State. Thomas Burrows picked up his fifth save of the year after recording the final out of the game.
Chance Vincent led the charge offensively for Alabama, as he drove in a run on three of the Tide's 13 hits. In the Tide's 17th game of the season with 10 hits or more, Ben Moore, Kyle Overstreet, Austen Smith and Hunter Webb all recorded two-hit games, with Overstreet adding his third home run of the year. Wade Wass drove in the other run on a single in the fifth.
"On the offensive end, it's not many nights you see 13 hits and only four runs," Gaspard said. "We put a lot of good swings on pitches so that was good to see. We had a lot of hard contact, but the double play kind of bit us a little bit, we had some missed opportunities and some execution issues as well. We needed that win. After the last couple of games, we just had to find a way to get one. We are not playing our best ball right now on the offensive end, so it was a huge win for us tonight and we will look to carry that momentum into tomorrow morning."
Tigers' starting pitcher Michael O'Neal (2-4) was charged with the loss after allowing a run on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in three-plus innings. The Tigers managed three hits as Blake Austin had a hit and a run scored, Damon Haecker was 1-for-3 with an RBI and Ebert was 1-for-3 with a bunt single.
Each team was held scoreless for the first three innings, but the Tide got on the board first with an Overstreet solo shot over the left field wall to open the Bama fourth. After chasing Auburn starter O'Neal in favor of Trey Cochran-Gill, Alabama added another run in the fifth on an infield single by Wass to drive in Salem.
With four of their first five batters reaching safely in the inning, the Tide struck for a two-spot in the seventh. After Moore singled to center and stole second, Overstreet drew a walk and Smith was hit by pitch to load the bases. On a Vincent infield single, Auburn third baseman Connor Short tried to force out the runner at home, but Moore scored on the play and an errant throw allowed Overstreet to make the score 4-0.
The Tigers got their only run in the ninth to break up Kamplain's complete-game shutout bid. Sandwiched in between two Auburn strikeouts, Austin put Auburn in scoring position with a double down the left field line. After Connor Short was hit by pitch, Haecker singled left on Kamplain's 125th offering of the night, plating Austin. With Short moving up to second, the Tide turned to Burrows, who got Dan Glevenyak to pop out to third to seal the Alabama win.
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