AUBURN, Ala. - Sacramento State took an early lead but Auburn scored runs in five straight innings through the middle of the game, scoring multiple runs in four innings, and overcame seven errors in the field for a 10-5 win over the Hornets on Friday in the first game of the 2016 season.
Sacramento State (0-1) plated five runs on seven hits, though three of the runs scored were unearned. Auburn (1-0) had 10 runs on 14 hits, hitting 9-for-24 with runners on base and 5-for-12 with two outs, scoring seven two-out runs.
Junior Sam Long, the preseason WAC Pitcher of the Year, started the game with two scoreless innings but ran into trouble after a Hornet error in the third and an elevated pitch count. He ended up going four innings, allowing just two earned runs but five total on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts throwing 81 pitches.
Long had an early lead as Sacramento State pushed across the first run of the game in the second inning. Sophomore Vinny Esposito laced a single to left and advanced to second on a fielding error, then scored on an RBI single from freshman Matt Smith, who had a hit and RBI in his first collegiate at-bat.
A Hornet error, a single, and a walk loaded the bases for Auburn in the third and Niko Buentello brought all three runners in on a two-out double to right center. The Hornets got a run back in the top of the fourth when senior Chris Lewis walked, stole second, and scored on a fielding error by Auburn shortstop Cody Nulph.
In the bottom of the inning, Auburn got a one-out single and Anthony Grier hit a two-out, two run homer to left field to put the Tigers up 5-2. Again the Hornets answered with a run in the next half inning, loading the bases on a single, an Auburn error, and a walk with nobody out and getting a run on a fielder's choice groundout from junior Kody Reynolds.
Auburn continued to tack on runs, however, picking up another run in the bottom of the fifth, two runs in the sixth, and two runs in the seventh. Sacramento State pushed across single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, with both runs scoring on Auburn fielding errors.
Sophomore Austin Root pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth but the Hornets went down in the ninth.
Smith, one of just two freshmen on the Hornet roster, finished with a hit and three RBIs in his collegiate debut. Sophomore center fielder Bronson Grubbs went 2-for-4 with two runs scored from the nine-hole while Root was the lone Hornet pitcher of five to not allow a run, striking out one in his inning of work.
Auburn starter Cole Libscomb allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks over five innings before a pair of relievers each threw two innings to close out the game. Five Auburn starters hat multi-hit games with Grier and designated hitter Jordan Ebert each tallying three hits.
Junior right-hander Justin Dillon will get the start for the Hornets in game two of the series on Saturday at 11 a.m. Pacific time.