Missed Opportunities As Tigers Fall On Friday

Radford homered in the top of the 13th to complete the comeback against Auburn and win 8-6.

Auburn, Ala.--Jumping out to a 5-0 lead through four innings the Auburn Tigers (3-2) couldn't make it stand up as Radford eventually pulled even before the rowdy Auburn crowd fell to silence in the top of the 13th when Matt Hillsinger hit a homerun over the left center wall to break a 6-6 tie. The Highlanders (3-1) would tack on another run in the inning and hold on for the win in a game that appeared to be an Auburn victory only innings before.

Zach Blatt took the loss for the Tigers as the Opelika native threw three innings, allowing four hits and two earned runs. He also walked two and struck out four. The big blow came from Hillsinger, the first home run Auburn has allowed this season.

Auburn coach John Pawlowski said it was a matter of missed opportunities for his team as the Tigers had chances to win the game in the ninth, 10th, and 11th innings before Radford pulled off the upset.

"It's frustrating," Pawlowski said. "We're up 5-0 and from there on out we just never seemed to come up with a big hit in a situation. It was a good college baseball game. Both games had their opportunities in scoring position.

"I was hoping we would come up with the big hit but it didn't work out. The best thing is our guys kept competing. Although we didn't win I saw some positive things from our club in the dugout. Hopefully that will help us down the road."

The Tigers took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on RBI singles from Wes Gilmer and Justin Hargett and added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth to build a commanding 5-0 lead.

Hargett was again at the center of things in the fourth with a two-run single to right field as part of his three-hit, three RBI performance on Friday.

Radford made the game more interesting after batting eight in the top of the fifth to chase Auburn starter Slade Smith from the game. After allowing just one hit the first four innings, the sophomore gave up five hits and three runs to the Highlanders before freshman Daniel Ortman came in to finish off the inning.

Radford continued the offensive threat in the sixth. With two outs, Cory Turner was walked. After stealing second, Zach Costello hit a line drive over Gilmer's head at third to cruise easily into second and score Turner.

Now leading just 5-4, Auburn responded in the bottom of the seventh with a run of its own. Already with a pair of hits, left fielder Brooks Beisner led off with a hit to right that he stretched into a double. Two sacrifice bunts later and the lead was back to two for the Tigers.

After scoring a single run in the seventh to cut the lead to 6-5, Radford got the break it needed in the top of the ninth. With one out reliever Ethan Wallen got Alex Guerra to lift a lazy fly ball to left field. Battling the sun Beisner misjudged the play and the resulting error allowed the runner to easily reach second base. Matt Mack's single then scored him to tie the game going to the bottom of the ninth.

Getting the first two runners on in the ninth, Auburn failed to get a bunt down and instead hit into a double play. With a runner on third Kevin Patterson was robbed of a hit and game-winning RBI to leave things tied. Auburn had at least one runner in scoring position in six of the last seven innings and failed to get a run across.

"We got some down in some situations but when we really needed it with runners on first and second it seemed like we couldn't do it," Pawlowski said. "That is frustrating because that's what we've got to have. We've got to be able to execute all the time. We put some pressure on them but weren't able to move some guys over. It puts a lot of pressure on the next guy coming up to get a hit and we couldn't do it tonight."

Slade Smith got the no decision, throwing 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs, while striking out one Highlander and walking two. Ortman, Sean Ray and Wallen all allowed a run with Ortman's coming in three and one/third innings.

Beisner had a phenomenal game at the plate, going 3-4 with three runs and a stolen base to go along with Hargett's three hits. Dan Gamache and Wes Gilmer both added two hits.

Auburn continues the series with Radford tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Plainsman Park. Junior Cory Luckie gets the start for the Tigers.


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