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Auburn vs Jacksonville State
March 29, 2022; Auburn, AL, USA; Kason Howell (5) reacts during the game between Auburn and Jacksonville State at Plainsman Park. Mandatory Credit: Jacob Taylor/AU Athletics

Gonzalez Goes the Distance while DiChiara Lays on the Runs in Series Finale Against Vanderbilt

AUBURN, ALABAMA. (EETV) - The No. 25 Auburn Tigers defeated the No. 13 Vanderbilt Commodores 8-2 Sunday afternoon after a big game from Sonny DiChiara on offense and an amazing performance on the mound by Joseph Gonzalez.

With the win, the Tigers get the series win against Vandy for the first time since 2018 and take the lead in the all-time series with 33 wins to 32.

"Every series is important, but to grab one like this is meaningful," head coach Butch Thompson said. "We needed somebody to step up, and it was done by one guy who only got stronger at the end."

It is the first time that Auburn has won three SEC series in a row since 2017.

Gonzalez pitched a full game for Auburn. With the win, the sophomore moves to 4-0 on the year. Gonzalez gave up eight hits and two runs with one of the runs being unearned. The Humacao, Puerto Rico native matched his career-high with eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

"When I'm pitching, I just like to stay focused and do my job," Gonzalez said. "I knew this game was mine around the sixth inning. My arm felt good. I think Sunday starts are exciting especially when the series is 1-1. I like the pressure."

Auburn got on the board early when DiChiara doubled to left-center field and brought Kason Howell into score. DiChiara would come into score later in the inning after a single from Brody Moore.

DiChiara came up big for the Tigers in the second when he hit a 3-run shot to center field bringing the Auburn lead up to four after Vandy scored an unearned run in the top of the second.

DiChiara was not done, the senior hit his second home run of the afternoon in the sixth. The first baseman ended his day going 3-5 from the plate with a double and two homers. He would record five RBIs of Auburn’s eight runs.

"The first homer I hit, he just left a fastball over the middle, and I was able to hit it out to center," DiChiara said. "The second one, I got a cutter and was able to get it over the green monster."

Bobby Pierce had a recorded a quiet 3-3 with three singles, the junior would also account for a run and reached base another time off of a beanball.

Moore had a multi-hit game going 2-3 from the plate with an RBI to show for it.

Auburn is back at Plainsman Park on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. for an in-state matchup against Sonny DiChiara’s former team, Samford.