AUBURN, Ala. – Jon Luke Jacobs continued his run of stellar starts in the midweek, running his winning streak to four straight as he struck out 11 in Auburn’s 7-0 win over South Alabama in non-conference baseball action on Tuesday night at Plainsman Park. Jacobs, who has struck out double-digit hitters in two of his four starts and leads the team with 33 strike outs, scattered three hits and two walks in 8 1/3 innings, the longest outing of his career.
“I felt early on I was just trying to settle in and get in the groove of the game,” Jacobs said. “I felt like that happened a lot earlier than it has in the past. My arch-nemesis over the past few years has been the first two innings. (Catcher Caleb Bowen) moved around well back there and gave me some good locations and I just worked off that.”
Dominant from the start, Jacobs (4-0) had a run of five straight strike outs from the second through third innings and struck out the side in the seventh following a leadoff walk. Only once did South Alabama (6-14) advance a runner into scoring position off of him, and it came in the fourth after a leadoff walk.
“You come off of a big series win like we did last weekend at Ole Miss and you don’t want to have a letdown. That got us in trouble last year. My main thing was to go out there and get us in the dugout as quick as possible and let our guys score some runs,” Jacobs said.
“When you throw three pitches like he did tonight, that’s a difference-maker,” Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said.
Auburn (13-8) built a 1-0 lead in the first as Jay Gonzalez scored when Cullen Wacker hit into a bases-loaded double play.
The club then used small ball and pressure to push five runs across in the fifth, forcing two South Alabama error on a pair of bunts. Caleb Bowen, who was one of four players to finish with two hits in the game, doubled to lead off the inning. A Zach Alvord bunt base hit to third and the first throwing error of the inning by South Alabama third baseman Dustin Dalken allowed Bowen to score for a 2-0 lead.
Gonzalez then laid down a sac bunt to Dalken but again he threw high and wide of first, allowing Auburn to have runners on the corners with none out. After a Creede Simpson sac fly made it 3-0, Ryan Tella drove in Gonzalez with a single and then scored on Cullen Wacker’s second triple of the year to make it 5-0. Justin Bryant capped the scoring in the inning with a RBI groundout.
Auburn’s final run came in the eighth when Dan Glevenyak doubled, stole third as part of a double steal with Bowen and scored on an Alvord sac fly.
Garrett Cooper finished the game 1-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to a career-high seven games and his streak of reaching base safely to 20 games.
Tella, who was one of the players with two hits, extended his hitting streak to six games and he has now been on base in 17 straight games. He leads the team with 13 multi-hit games, 11 of which have come in the last 15 games.
Auburn returns to SEC play this weekend when it plays host to No. 8 LSU. First pitch for the series opener on Friday is set for 6pm.