Feb. 13, 2004
Auburn, Ala. - Preseason All-American second baseman Tug Hulett's one-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning scoring pinch runner Cory Zimmerman from third base proved to be the winning run as No. 12 Auburn defeated Western Carolina, 5-4, in both club's season openers before a crowd of 3,317.
Auburn's Josh Sullivan led off the ninth with a walk and was substituted by Zimmerman before a sacrifice by Ben Maitland advanced Zimmerman to second. Pinch hitter Ben Sprague singled to left, putting runners on the corners before Hulett's stroked the first offering from Catamount pitcher Brian McCullen over the head of right fielder for the game winner.
Western Carolina took a 3-1 lead in the third inning behind a sacrifice fly RBI by Todd Roper and a two-out two-run homer from Jared Greenwood off Auburn starter Mike Felix. Brian Sigmon was hit-by-pitch to begin the inning and lead-off hitter Wayne Kilmer doubled before Roper's sac fly.
Catamount right fielder Alex Gary gave the visitors a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning with a solo home run over the green monster in left field.
Trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning, Auburn tied the game on Josh Bell's one-out fielder's choice scoring Hulett from third. Hulett began the inning with a walk and advanced to third on a fielding error by shortstop Todd Roper.
Auburn Preseason All-American closer Steven Register (1-0) was credited with the win after walking two and striking out two in the ninth inning. Freshman starter Mike Felix gave up four runs in three innings of action, while junior college transfer John Madden worked three hitless innings in relief.
McCullen (0-1) was credited with the loss for Western Carolina after allowing a run on three hits in 1 1/3 innings. Catamount starter Brad Josey went seven innings surrendering three runs on six hits with five strikeouts.
The teams will play the second game of the three-game series tomorrow at 2 p.m. (CT) or 3 pm (ET) at Plainsman Park. A radio broadcast of the game can be heard by visiting Auburn's athletics website at: www.auburntigers.com