BATON ROUGE, La. -- Junior Marcy Harper tossed a six-plus, two-hit game Friday night, holding the No. 6 LSU offense to only one run and helping No. 8 Auburn to a big 2-1 series-opening victory. The win is Auburn's fifth in a row and was LSU's second loss at home this season.
Harper battled in arguably her best performance of the season, tying her lowest number of hits given up in a start this year and Friday was her second consecutive start of six innings or more. She is now 10-3 on the year becoming Auburn's third pitcher with 10 or more wins this season.
"Not many teams can come in here and do something like that," Auburn head coach Clint Myers said. "Marcy (Harper) hit her spots tonight. She went up and down, left and right and she had a great defense behind her. It was two great teams playing tonight and we happened to win it."
Auburn is now 45-8 on the year and 17-5 in conference play. The victory keeps the team well within the hunt of the SEC regular-season championship as Florida held its half-game lead on the Tigers winning at Missouri, 7-6, also on Friday.
Along with Harper's performance, it was the Auburn defense that came up big. As the pitching staff worked around the six walks given up, Auburn committed no errors and recorded a big double play in the fifth inning, still leading the conference with 24 twin killings this year.
Offensively, Auburn was limited to only three hits with two runs coming home, all before the fourth inning. LSU starting pitcher, Carley Hoover, went the distance, giving up two earned runs with six strikeouts, but walking five. The loss was Hoover's fourth of the year.
Emily Carosone did go 2-for-3 in the game, the only two-hit performance for any player in the game from either team. Kasey Cooper had the other hit for Auburn going 1-for-2 with two walks.
Auburn got things started relatively quickly in the first inning, loading the bases after a single by Carosone and walks to Cooper and Branndi Melero. Morgan Estell got the job done with the soft grounder to short, allowing Carosone to score easily and take the 1-0 lead. It was the only RBI of the game for Auburn.
LSU responded in the bottom of the first with its own run on a sacrifice fly by Savannah Jaquish, but Harper shut it down the rest of the way to keep it tied at one after the first frame.
Auburn got its go-ahead run in the third inning as Cooper led off the frame with a walk and then reached around to third on a wild pitch and a ground out to the pitcher. With still only one out and Estell at the plate, Cooper was able to score on Hoover's second wild pitch of the inning. The heads-up base running was the final run scored in the game and it was still only the third inning.
Harper went on to toss four consecutive scoreless innings with no hits and LSU seemed to have no answer.
On a side note, junior Tiffany Howard had her 52-game reached base streak snapped on Friday, going 0-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt and two strikeouts. It marks the first game this season that the Pembroke, Ga.-native did not reach base via a walk, hit or hit by pitch, which is the longest of any Auburn Tiger in recent history.