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Auburn and Alabama heading in Different Directions

This past Tuesday evening, the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide took a trip to meet in Montgomery at Riverwalk Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Rays AA minor league team, the Montgomery Biscuits. For years now, the two teams have met in March in a non-conference rival game called the Capital City Classic. Auburn won the contest 8-3 and advanced to 8-6 on the season, while Alabama’s record fell to 5-7. Auburn has won each contest the past four years and has a record of 4-0 in Montgomery for the Capital City Classic against Alabama.

The Auburn Tigers took the early lead with placement hitting, and capitalized with men on base. They played well under pressure, scoring their first two runs with two outs. Auburn also wasn’t afraid to steal some bases. Creede Simpson had two steals on the night and helped bring their total stolen bases for the season to 44.

The Tigers are known for their speed this year, so it’s no surprise when their top five hitters take off for second base. The hard part is gunning them down. Defensively, sophomore catcher Blake Austin has no problem with that when the opponents have men on base.

Something that Auburn is not known for is their pitching. Over the past few weeks, the Tigers have struggled in that area. However, for the weekends, they found a gem in freshman pitcher Daniel Koger. On what is known as “Championship Sunday” in Auburn, the past few years have always found their best pitching on the last day of each series. In the MAX Capital City Classic game Tuesday night, senior pitcher Jon Luke Jacobs (3-0) showed that this year’s pitching staff is nothing to sneeze at. He threw 6.2 innings before senior relief pitcher Justin Bryant came in to close out the game and get the save.

Sophomore JUCO transfer Dan Glevenyak shined as the MVP of the 2012 Capital City Classic, which was well-deserved as he went 3-4 with 3 RBIs and his first home run of the season.

While the Alabama Crimson Tide has been struggling during the early season, a match-up between Auburn and Alabama always provides good contest no matter what sport it is. Senior outfielder Taylor Dugas played outstanding defense in centerfield, which is to be expected of him. Batting first in the lineup with the number 1, it fits as he’s used to getting on base with a quick step. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI Tuesday night, while Brett Booth and Ben Moore contributed to the other runs.

Pitcher Spencer Turnball (0-1) suffered the loss but matched Auburn’s Jon Luke Jacobs with six strikeouts in only 3.1 innings.

The Alabama Crimson Tide played good baseball and made the game interesting for the fans at Riverwalk Stadium, and they’ll be looking for revenge in April when the Tigers come to town for conference play.

Also known as the “Iron Bowl of baseball,” the Capital City Classic is a great way for both teams to get a taste of what the SEC conference will be like for the season, and they get a chance to play each other when it doesn’t count for the conference record. With the Auburn-Alabama rivalry so heated throughout the state of Alabama, it is always an enjoyable contest full of outstanding talent and entertainment. No matter how good or bad one team might be, in any sport, you can always count on an Auburn-Alabama match to play the best of the sport that either team can offer. Tuesday’s game was no different.

This weekend, Auburn closes out their non-conference weekends as they welcome Belmont to Plainsman park. Alabama does the same by hosting the DRASH Alabama Baseball Tournament with contending teams including Oral Roberts, East Carolina, and No. 20 Louisville.