The bats weren't too hot, again, as South Carolina-Upstate put in their ace pitcher in relief in the 1st inning, but good vision by the Auburn batters and key hits in clutch moments were enough to propel the Tigers to a comfortable victory Saturday afternoon.
Two early walks in the 2nd inning put runners on board for the Tigers. A few batters later and Emily Carosone drove one off the left field wall for a 2 RBI double. Upstate's Abbie Millete cut that in half with a solo home run off Kaylee Carlson in the bottom half of the inning, though. Both pitchers were throwing well early on, but a big 4th inning for Auburn really opened up the game.
In the 4th, a series of walks and a hit-by-pitch (on, who else, but Emily Carosone for the 82nd time in her career) loaded the bases. Two more walks to first Kasey Cooper and then Carlee Wallace extended the Tiger lead to 4-1.
That's where the score stayed until the top of the 7th, when Auburn was able to get things going again. The first batter reached on a throwing error. A Haley Fagan double - her first hit of the year - scored the runner for a bit of insurance. A few fielder's choices later and the score was 6-1.
That was more than enough for Kaylee Carlson. She allowed two runners to get on board in the bottom of the 7th, but a double-play erased the runners and ended the game with the final of 6-1.
For the Tigers, the story of the day seemed to be patience in the batter's box. By the same token, the issue for the Spartans were the numerous free passes. 9 Tigers walked and 1 was hit by a pitch on the day. Auburn was able to let the opportunities come to them and not chase bad pitches. When it mattered most, the Tigers took advantage of the free passes and plated runners.
Auburn now has the rest of the day off, as USC-Upstate will await the winner of Oregon State and Jacksonville State. That game will be played this evening. The Tigers will face the winner of that final game for the Regional Final, tomorrow. Two games will be played, if necessary. If Auburn wins the first one, the Tigers will advance to the Super Regional next weekend.