Bauman, Cannon pitch Auburn past Alabama in series opener

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David Gray/Auburn Tigers

AUBURN, Ala. – Aided by two late sparking defensive plays from second baseman Caden Green, Tanner Bauman and Will Cannon pitched Auburn past Alabama 4-2 Thursday at Plainsman Park to open the season-ending series.
The win marked Auburn's third straight and its fifth in the last six contests dating back to the series finale vs. Ole Miss.
"Saved his best for last," said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson of Bauman, who was honored along with the rest of the Tigers' seniors in a pregame ceremony. "That's by far my favorite outing that he's had in two years, and I'm thankful for him to get that on Senior Day."
With two outs and the potential tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth, Green raced to shallow center to track down a popup to record the game's final out.
An inning earlier, Green moved swiftly to his right on a bouncer up the middle, fielding and firing to first to retire TJ McCants.
"I thought that was one of the best defensive games we've had all year," said Bauman, who earned the victory to improve to 3-2. "It gives you so much confidence when you know guys like that are going to make plays."
With Auburn (26-25, 7-21 SEC) clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning, freshman Cade Belyeu homered for the third straight game and fourth time in the last five contests, belting a two-out, two-strike home run 437 feet to right-center to put the Tigers on top 4-2.
Auburn took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Cooper McMurray's sacrifice fly plated Chris Stanfield, who drew a leadoff walk.
The Tigers made it 2-0 in the third when Ike Irish led off with a double, advanced to third on a grounder and scored on Green's fielder's choice.
Alabama (32-20, 12-16) scored on Gage Miller's RBI single in the top of the fourth.
Bauman struck out a career-high eight and allowed two runs on five hits in 6.0 innings, exiting to a rousing ovation after a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh.
"It means a lot because we've been through so much this year," Bauman said. "For the fans to recognize me like that was a surreal feeling and something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Green led off the bottom of the sixth with a double when Alabama's right fielder and second baseman collided on a well-placed popup to shallow right. Two batters later, Deric Fabian doubled to the wall in right to score Green, giving Auburn a 3-1 lead and ending the outing for Alabama starter Greg Farone, who fell to 4-3 with the loss.
After a leadoff walk, Alabama trimmed the Tigers' lead to 3-2 with a two-out single off reliever Will Cannon in the top of the seventh.
Cannon pitched the final 3.0 innings, scattering three hits to earn his second save.
"It meant everything to me," said Cannon of the opportunity to close against his team's in-state rival. "I wanted to give us a shot. I grew up an Auburn fan. It was so meaningful."
Half of Auburn's 10 hits went for extra bases, including a pair of Fabian doubles. Irish and Green also turned in multi-hit efforts.
"We just stuck to the plan Coach (Gabe) Gross gave us," Fabian said. "We definitely appreciate everybody who came out. The support we've gotten this year has been outstanding. For myself and all the coaches and players, we're extremely grateful."
With an opportunity to secure the rivalry series, Chase Allsup is scheduled to start for the Tigers Friday at 6 p.m. CT.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer