Bulldogs Score Four In Ninth To Down Tigers

Georgia's Justin McClain singled home two runs to complete a comeback for the Bulldogs against the Tigers on Sunday.

Athens, Ga.--Auburn's fortunate weekend finally came back to haunt them in Sunday's game as the Georgia Bulldogs scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Tigers 7-6 and avoid a sweep at the hands of Coach Steve Renfroe's club. Leading 6-3 after scoring an insurance run in the top of the inning, Auburn pitchers Levale Speigner, Chris Dennis and Lee Carter were unable to get an out in the bottom of the inning as Georgia earned its first SEC win of the season. The loss drops the Tigers to 7-2 in the conference and 24-6 overall.

The Tigers missed a golden opportunity to put the game away in the ninth inning. Leading 5-3, Auburn got the lead off man aboard when sophomore Sean Gamble was hit by a 2-2 pitch to bring Javon Moran to the plate. With a solo home run on the day, Moran hit safely once again as he singled to center field to bring leading hitter Tug Hulett to the plate. Trying to bunt both runners over, Hulett worked the count to 3-0 and eventually earned a walk to load the bases for Bobby Huddleston. With two doubles and two RBI on the day, Huddleston continued his streaking play with a sacrifice fly to center field that easily scored Gamble from third to make it 6-3 Tigers. It looked like they would put the game out of reach, but it wasn't to be.

Hoping to catch the Bulldogs asleep, the Tigers attempted a double steal with Moran and Hulett. The move proved to be a bad one because Georgia catcher Clint Sammons threw out Moran at third. With two outs and Hulett on second, designated hitter Karl Amonite hit a sharp grounder to the first baseman to end the inning and the Auburn threat. Still, leading by three runs with the senior (Speigner) on the mound, everything appeared ripe for the Tiger sweep. Georgia had other ideas.

Shortstop Justin Holmes led off the inning with a single to center field to bring speedy Marshall Szabo to the plate. Getting just what he wanted, Speigner got Szabo to hit a ground ball back to the mound. Wheeling and throwing to the bag at second, Speigner's throw couldn't be handled by shortstop Chuck Jeroloman. With both runners safe, Renfroe went to the bullpen to see if Dennis had the magic touch once again. After surviving a bases loaded, no out situation in Friday night's game, Dennis had the pressure once again. This time would be a different story.

Already with two doubles in Sunday's game, Lee Mitchell came through again with a single to left field to score Holmes from second with the first run of the inning. Power hitter David Coffey, who had two home runs in three weekend games, earned a walk from Dennis to load the bases and bring a short end to Dennis' day. In for Dennis, Carter was in for one thing and one thing only, to throw a ground ball for a hopeful double play. He did one part of his job as John Armitage hit a ground ball, but it went through the right side for a base hit to bring the Bulldogs within a run and still nobody out. Because of appearances in the first two games of the series, Auburn closer Steven Register wasn't available for Sunday's game, leaving Carter with the job of trying to hold the lead. It wasn't to be as Justin McClain singled through the left side to score both Mitchell and Coffey with the tying and winning runs.

"We had a double play ball and didn't handle it and they made us pay for it," Renfroe said. "You've got to tip your hat to them, but we didn't put them away when we could have."

Georgia pounded Auburn pitching for 15 hits in Sunday's game while the Tigers managed just nine hits off the Bulldogs with five coming in a fourth inning outburst that gave Auburn big early lead. Trailing 1-0 following a Coffey single that scored Mitchell in the third, Auburn exploded in the fourth inning thanks to hits of the extra-base variety. Getting a pitch he liked from Georgia starter Mickey Westphal, Moran drilled a long home run over the left field wall to tie the game at one. Following a Hulett fly out, Huddleston hit a long double to center field that nearly got over the wall at the 415' mark. Amonite's turn was next and he tripled to right field to score Huddleston to give the Tigers the lead.

Scott Schade got another key hit as he singled to center field to score Amonite and make it 3-1 Auburn with Clete Thomas coming to the plate. Fighting off several pitches, he lined a single to center field to give the Tigers runners on first and second with just one out. First baseman Kyle Bohm got fortunate as he was hit by a pitch on a 0-2 count to load the bases. Jeroloman lifted a fly ball to center field to score Schade from third with Auburn's final run of the inning. Leading 4-1 with starter Colby Paxton still on the mound, everything looked good for the Tigers heading into the final innings of Sunday's series finale.

It didn't take long for those feelings to change as McClain led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run to cut the lead back to two. The Bulldogs had a chance for a lot more but a big break for the Tigers kept them in the lead. Following a Josh Smith walk and a Sammons fly out, Greg Adams singled to right field to put runners on first and second with just one out. That's when lady luck shined on the Tigers. The lead off hitter, Holmes drilled a ball that looked to be headed to right field, but Adams couldn't get out of the way and the ball hit him for the second out of the inning. Szabo flied out to end the inning and the Bulldog threat with Auburn still leading 4-2.

That would be the end of Paxton's day with Andrew Skinner coming on in the top of the fifth. Again the long ball reared its ugly head as Coffey drilled a long home run over the right field wall to make it 4-3 Tigers. Speigner came on to record the final two outs of the inning and he would cruise until the ninth when the Bulldogs rallied for the victory. Auburn added its final run of the game on a Huddleston double to score Hulett in the seventh inning. Huddleston led the way for the Tigers with two doubles and two runs batted in. Moran and Thomas also had two hits. Brandon Morehead (1-0) was credited with the win for Georgia after allowing just one run in 2 2/3 innings of relief. Westphal gave up four runs in five hits in 3 2/3 innings in the start for the Bulldogs.

Dennis (1-1) picked up the loss for Auburn after allowing two runs in the ninth. Paxton went four innings in a starting effort for the Tigers, giving up a pair of runs on seven hits. Speigner allowed a pair of runs, including one unearned in 3 2/3 innings of relief.

Auburn returns to action Wednesday when they play Troy State at Paterson Field in Montgomery at 6:30 p.m. CT. The Tigers will host Alabama next weekend for a three-game series at Plainsman Park beginning Friday night at 6:30. A limited number of single-game terrace tickets will go on sale Wednesday.


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