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McElroy's homer lifts Tigers

On a night dominated by pitchers, one swing of Casey McElroy’s bat was the difference.

Casey McElroy's two-run homer was the game-winner.

After Cullen Wacker got his second pinch-hit single in as many nights, McElroy hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning at Alex Box Stadium and lifted Auburn to its fifth straight victory, 3-1 over LSU.

The victory improved the Tigers’ record to 2014 overall and 7-7 in the SEC, one game out of first place in the West Division. No. 21 LSU lost its sixth straight overall and fifth straight in the SEC, falling to 22-14 overall and a stunning 3-11 in the SEC.

The game was a taut pitcher’s duel from the beginning.

Auburn junior starter Corey Luckie gave up LSU’s only run on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out nine and walked two. Ethan Wallen pitched out of trouble in the eighth and ninth innings to get the win. He didn’t give up a hit, struck out in 2 1/3 innings to get the win. He got a save in Auburn’s 8-7 win Friday night.

LSU freshman Kevin Gausman was dominant until McElroy hit his 123rd pitch over the right field fence. In 8 1/3 innings, Gausman gave up five hits, struck out eight and walked two. But he was tagged with the loss. Last Saturday at Arkansas, he pitched eight scoreless before leaving the game and seeing the Razorbacks win in the bottom of the ninth.

“I was really just fighting to get the ball in play,” McElroy said. “I had struggled. When I got to 3-2, I was really just looking for a ball I could make contact with or fight off. Fortunately, it was a good pitch and I barreled it up.

“The perseverance of this team is incredible. Cory Luckie came out and really battled his butt off.”

LSU took a 1-0 lead in the second. Auburn finally in the sixth when McElroy walked, went to second on Dan Gamache’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Tony Caldwell’s single to right.

In the ninth, Wacker led off with a single and went to second on Justin Fradejas’ sacrifice. Caldwell, facing his fourth full count of the game, made his first hit count. He had struck out his first two times at bat.

“What a great game,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “… We really didn’t have much going offensively. We thought it was going to come down to maybe one play, one swing, one pitch. It certainly did.”

Luckie didn’t figure into the decision, but Pawlowski said he gave the Tigers a chance to win it late.

“What a great job,” Pawlowski said. “He made big pitches when he had to.”

Pawlowski said Jon Luke Jacobs will get the start as the Tigers go for their second consecutive series sweep Sunday. The Tigers are without ace Derek Varnadore, who was left at home because of a tired arm.

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