For the sixth time in seven years, Auburn defeated Alabama in the MAX Capital City Classic, a mid-week, non-SEC game between the two rivals. The Tide's only victory came last year by a score of 4-3, as relief pitcher Thomas Burrows was MVP.
Tiger ace pitcher Keegan Thompson started on the mound, dominating the Tide, and was named MVP of the game. Thompson lasted into the eighth inning and struck out 12 while walking only one, while tossing over 120 pitches.
Alabama started Jake Hubbard on the mound, only Hubbard's third start of his Tide career. The redshirt junior right-hander pitched two scoreless innings before running into trouble in the third, when the Tigers touched him for three runs. Hubbard came out in the fourth and loaded the bases with no outs, before being relieved by Ray Castillo. One run scored on a ground out, but Castillo closed the door after that, and pitched effectively into the seventh inning. The lead off hitter in the seventh reached on a single, and Castillo was replaced with Thomas Burrows. Burrows loaded the bases, allowing a bloop single, a fielders choice, and a walk. A run scored on a wild pitch, which was charged to Castillo, his first run allowed all season.
Meanwhile Thompson was carving up the Tide, inning by inning. The Tide finally reached him in the sixth inning when Georgie Salem led off with an infield single. The hit kept Salem's 16-game on-base streak alive. Mikey White followed with a long triple to score Salem. Kyle Overstreet hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring White to cut the lead to 4-2 at the time.
Burrows was relieved by J.C. Wilhite in the eighth inning after two were out and a runner on second. Wilhite got a fly out to strand the runner, and leave the Tide within striking range. The Tide finally seemed to get to Thompson in the eighth inning. White blasted a long drive in the left center gap, almost leaving the yard, and stormed into third with his second triple of the game, and fourth of the year. Casey Hughston hit a sacrifice fly to left to score White, cutting the lead to 5-3. Overstreet singled and Wilhite doubled, putting the tying run at second base with only one out.
Thompson was finally lifted, after over 120 pitches, and was replaced by 6'7" right-hander Trey Wingenter. Wingenter induced a line out by Chance Vincent and struck out Bill Elliott, dousing the Tide's best chance to get back in the game. Wilhite allow a single to the lead off man in the ninth, who was quickly cut down trying to steal by Will Haynie. The second batter struck out, and Wilhite plunked the next hitter in the back, however, he too was cut down trying to steal by the rocket-armed catcher, Haynie.
The Tide went down quickly and quietly in the bottom of the ninth and the Tigers claimed another Capital City Classic. Auburn improved to 10-3 on the season, while the Tide fell to 7-5. It seems that it is time to alter this annual event, and perhaps rotate between Birmingham and Montgomery, playing the Tide's home game at Regions Park, while allowing Auburn to be home team at the Biscuits park.
Auburn outhit the Tide 10-7 on the game, and also had four batters walk, to only one for 'Bama. Four of the Tide's hits were for extra bases, White's two triples and doubles by Hughston and Wilhite. 'Bama leads the nation in doubles with 34 on the young season.
Auburn used their two top starting pitchers in the game in Thompson and Wingenter. Thompson will now be shut down until the SEC season begins in two weeks. 'Bama chose to stay with their routine, and use their pitchers on regular rest, which should pay off going forward.
Alabama will continue their tour of the state, playing this weekends series with Lipscomb in Mobile at Hank Aaron Stadium this weekend. Friday and Saturday's games will being at 7:05 p.m and Sunday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. No television, or on line SEC Network streaming will be available for the series.
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