Caldwell's Late Heroics Lift Tigers Over Dogs

Auburn scored two runs in the bottom of the 11th inning to beat Georgia 4-3 Friday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th inning, senior catcher Tony Caldwell singled home Justin Hargett and Justin Fradejas to give the Auburn Tigers (24-21, 10-12) a huge Friday night win over the Georgia Bulldogs (24-22, 13-9) in front of 3,128 fans at Plainsman Park. Giving up a solo homer in the top of the inning, Auburn responded with a huge bottom of the inning to pick up its first Friday night home SEC win this season.

Needing to get something going leading off the 11th inning following a two-out, two-strike homer from Georgia‘s Jonathan Hester, Hargett singled to left field off the Bulldogs' closer Tyler Maloof to get the Auburn crowd on its feet. Up trying to bunt Hargett over into scoring position against the nation's save leader, Fradejas fouled two attempts before ripping a two-strike pitch into right field for a single. Using his speed Hargett raced to third base, putting runners on the corners with nobody out.

A walk to freshman Jay Gonzalez then loaded the bases for the heart of the Auburn order. Recovering nicely, Maloof struck out Casey McElroy to bring Caldwell to the plate. Already with four hits on the night, the catcher said he adjusted to the right-hander enough to get the ball into right field and give the Tigers the win.

"It's the thing about baseball, it's about clutch hits in key situations like the last inning right there," Caldwell said. "Everyone did their jobs and came through. I'm happy to come through in the clutch and get the big knock.

"Their closer had a really good two-seam fastball and I was sitting on his fastball," he added. "He threw five of them to me the at-bat before. He threw me a curveball the first pitch and then he backed it up again and threw another curveball. I was just happy to stay on it and drive it to right field. That's what we work on every day in batting practice."

Auburn players celebrate as Hargett and Fradejas score the winning runs against Georgia.

Caldwell was the hitting star for the Tigers with four hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Fradejas, McElroy, Hargett and Wes Gilmer all added two hits as well, but this night would not have been possible without the pitching of starter Jon Luke Jacobs and reliever Dillon Ortman.

Jacobs allowed two runs on seven hits in seven and one/third innings and struck out nine batters for the second-straight game while Ortman gave up a run on two hits in three and two/thirds innings, striking out five. Auburn Coach John Pawlowski said it was a huge win for his team and it started on the mound.

"You can't say enough about Jon Luke Jacobs and Dillon Ortman came in and had two big, big strikeouts," Pawlowski said. "He pitched extremely well. It was a good win for our team. Emotionally they stayed with it. It was great to win a ballgame like that."

The Tigers started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning as Caldwell led things off with a double to left field. Gilmer did his job with a ground ball to the right side to bring the third consecutive senior to the plate in Kevin Patterson. Facing the lefty Patterson pulled a ground ball to the right side as well to score Caldwell and put Auburn up 1-0.

It didn't take long for Georgia to answer back as Conor Welton led off with a single and came around to score on a Brandon Stephens double to left field that just missed clearing the monster. One inning later Brett Deloach put the Bulldogs in front with a solo homer to left field off Jacobs. It was his fourth home run of the season for Deloach.

Auburn tied things up in the sixth, but missed an opportunity to take the lead. With one out Casey McElroy singled to center field and moved to second on a single by Caldwell. That brought Gilmer to the plate. Getting a pitch to pull from the right side he laced it into left field for a single. Coming up throwing, Georgia's Zach Cone gunned down McElroy at the plate for out number two.

With runners on first and second and two outs Patterson strode to the plate looking to tie things up. Chopping a ground ball into the dirt that bounced high into the air, Patterson reached on an infield single. On the play the ball bounded off the glove of Jonathan Hester at first base. Never slowing down Caldwell scored all the way from second to tie things at two. Simpson just missed giving Auburn a big lead as his blast to center field was caught on the warning track by Welton to end the inning.

Trying to get something started in the bottom of the seventh, Fradejas put down a perfect bunt with two outs and stole second to put the pressure on Wood. He responded by walking Dan Gamache to bring McElroy to the plate. Facing Auburn's best hitter Wood instead turned and threw to second, catching Fradejas a little too far off the bag for out number three.

In the eighth Jacobs struck out Peter Verdin to lead off the inning, his ninth punch out of the game, but gave up a double to Kyle Farmer to bring Cone to the plate. That was the end of the line for Jacobs as Ortman came in trying to keep things tied up. Showing his toughness Ortman struck out Cone and Deloach to end the inning.

Auburn again threatened in the bottom of the eighth as a one-out single by Caldwell and a Gilmer hit by pitch put runners on first and second. Following a Patterson strikeout, Simpson walked to load the bases for Brooks Beisner. Getting ahead in the count 2-1 the junior popped up to first to send it to the ninth still tied at two. That made six runners left on base in three innings for the Tigers and nine for the game.

In the ninth the Tigers again got something going with two outs as Gamache walked to bring McElroy to the plate. Struggling with a sore hamstring, Gamache was replaced by Bobby Andrews. Out last weekend after injuring his hand, Andrews was at first with a soft cast on his right hand.

Getting a pitch to hit McElroy slammed the ball deep to right field and off the wall for a double. Off on the pitch Andrews rounded third base and barreled for home as the relay throw from Hyams got to catcher Joey Delmonico in plenty of time. However his tag was late and it looked like Andrews had gotten underneath, but home plate umpire Gregory Street thought otherwise. Auburn's second runner thrown out at the plate in the game meant extra innings.

Auburn again got two runners on in the 10th, but failed to score as a Simpson fly ball to left and pinch hitter Cullen Wacker's groundout to second left the winning run at second. That made nine runners left on base for the Tigers in the last five innings, but when it mattered most Auburn delivered to get the win.

The Tigers will look to win the series on Saturday as Derek Varnadore will face off against Michael Palazzone in a battle of power right-handers. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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