MONTGOMERY, Ala. – No. 9 Auburn used a trio of long balls and its best defensive performance of the season to defeat Alabama, 5-2, in the 10th annual MAX Capital City Classic Tuesday night at Riverwalk Stadium.
The win was Auburn’s ninth in the 10 meetings with the Crimson Tide in Montgomery and its fourth straight. The Tigers improved to 21-5 on the season while Alabama fell to 16-10.
Will Holland became the first player in the history of the Capital City Classic to hit a pair of home runs and was named the Most Valuable Player in front of a record crowd of 7,719.
“Holland, those two swings he had tonight were beautiful, and the three plays Jay Estes made defensively changed the course of the ballgame,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “This place was jam packed all the way around. Everybody did their job, MAX Credit Union, Auburn University, the University of Alabama, the city of Montgomery. It’s a special event for baseball in the state of Alabama.”
Freshman left-hander Jack Owen (1-1, 4.40) earned the first win of his collegiate career, while Calvin Coker turned in his team-best fifth save of the season.
The Auburn offense was able to get to Alabama starter Mason Duke (2-1, 2.08), who suffered the loss and gave up his first four runs of the season while lasting only 1.2 innings.
After Owen retired the first two batters of the game, Estes helped the freshman southpaw work a three-up, three-down opening frame as the centerfielder made a leaping catch while crashing into the wall in left-center.
Edouard Julien got the Tigers’ attack started in the bottom of the second inning with a three-run home run to right field, his fourth of the season. Two batters later, Holland turned on a ball and hit a line-drive home run to left field, giving Auburn its 20th inning with four or more runs this season.
Owen tossed a career-high 4.0 scoreless innings and allowed one hit with two walks and four strikeouts en route to earning the win. He and the rest of the Auburn pitching staff received a clean slate in the field as Estes made three diving catches.
Welby Malczewski came out of the bullpen and worked a scoreless fifth, but Alabama got on the scoreboard as the first three batters reached in the top of the sixth. However, Coker came on in relief with nobody out and the tying run at the plate and retired the next three Crimson Tide batters to minimize the damage.
Holland came back around in the top of the seventh and led off the inning with a home run to the deepest park of the ballpark against Alabama reliever Davis Vainer, and the Auburn offense turned in the first three-home-run performance of the Capital City Classic.
Alabama plated a run on two two-out hits in the top of the eighth, but Coker came back out and worked a perfect ninth to nail down the 4.0-inning save.
Offensively, eight of the nine players in Auburn’s starting lineup recorded a hit, including multi-hit games from Holland, Steven Williams, Brendan Venter, Conor Davis and Estes. Julien’s three RBI in the game matched a Capital City Classic record.
The Tigers are back in action in SEC play this weekend as the Tigers host No. 24 Missouri (19-6, 3-3 SEC) for a three-game series at Plainsman Park.
Courtesy of George Nunnelley, Assistant Director of Communications – Auburn University