Tigers Rally Twice to Top Tide

The Auburn baseball team opened its series with a victory over Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and freshman reliever Dillon Ortman pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his second win of the year as the Tigers defeated Alabama 7-5 in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader at Plainsman Park.

With the win Auburn improves to 12-13 in the SEC and 27-23 overall. Alabama falls to 30-21 and also 12-13 in league play.

In a back and forth game Auburn trailed early but rebounded to take a 5-2 lead in the seventh before allowing Alabama to score three runs and tie the game going to the bottom of the eighth inning. That's when the Tigers came through to earn the win.

Leading the inning off, senior Justin Hargett worked a walk from reliever Adam Windsor. Attempting to bunt the runner over, Justin Fradejas didn't get the job done as Windsor fielded his bunt and threw to second to retire Hargett. It didn't matter as pinch hitter Brooks Beisner singled through the right side to put runners on first and third with nobody out.

Already hit by a pitch once in the game Auburn shortstop Casey McElroy was hit in the back by Windsor to load the bases for Tony Caldwell. With right-hander Josh Rosecrans in the game Caldwell hit a one-hopper into the hole at shortstop. Fielding the ball Alabama shortstop Jared Reaves turned and tried to throw out Fradejas at the plate. The throw was late and got by catcher Brock Bennett allowing Beisner to score as well.

Now leading 7-5 Ortman made the lead stand up to improve his record to 2-1 on the season. He allowed a run on three hits in three innings in relief of Jon Luke Jacobs. In his third consecutive solid outing Jacobs allowed just four runs on seven hits in seven innings.

It could have been a rough start for Jacobs in the first but he was saved thanks to great defense and a mistake from Alabama. Leading off the game Taylor Dugas hit a screaming line drive towards the gap in right-center, but Fradejas made a diving grab for the first out.

Up next Bennett hit a liner that flew up chalk down the right field line. In his haste to get to second base however he missed first base. Auburn threw back to first and umpire Randolph Harvey called Bennett out. Instead of trailing leaving the first the game was still scoreless.

Auburn left a pair of runners on base in the first and it would prove to be important as the Crimson Tide got three-straight two out hits in the second to score a pair of runs. Getting the first two hitters with ease Jacobs gave up a double to Brett Booth (.227), a single to Patrick McGavin (.250) and a double to Hunter Gregory (.196) to score a pair.

The Tigers answered back in the third with one swing of bat from McElroy. With one out and ahead 3-0 in the count the junior got the green light and made it pay off with a homer over the center field wall. It was his seventh of the season and cut the lead in half.

Jacobs escaped trouble in the top of fourth as Alabama once again put a pair of runners on base with just one out. With a runner on first Booth came up with his second hit of the game with a single to left. Taking second on Creede Simpson's throw to third, Booth put a pair in scoring position for McGavin and Gregory. This time however Jacobs was up to the task with a strikeout and flyout to end the threat.

The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the seventh when Auburn exploded at the plate. Leading things off Simpson doubled to left-center and moved to third on a single by Hargett. Fradejas then continued his hot streak with a double just inside the third base bag. The hit scored Simpson to tie the game at two, but the Tigers were just getting started.

With reliever Taylor Wolfe in Dan Gamache singled to right field to score Hargett and put runners on the corners still with nobody out. Wolfe then hit McElroy with a pitch to load the bases. That would be all for Wolfe as Nathan Kennedy came in to pitch and walked both Caldwell and Wes Gilmer to force home two more runs for the 5-2 Auburn lead.

Unfortunately for the Tigers that would be all for Auburn as the fourth Alabama pitcher of the inning proved to the charm for the Crimson Tide as lefty Adam Windsor struck out Kevin Patterson, got Cullen Wacker on a pop up, and Simpson on a fly ball to right field to keep things at a three-run lead for Auburn.

Tony Caldwell had two RBI and was instrumental in the eighth inning rally for the Tigers.

The missed opportunity would haunt the Tigers as Bennett singled and Jared Reaves doubled to open the top of the eighth and bring Jacobs' day to a close. Ortman came on in relief facing the heart of the Alabama order. The freshman struck out Austen Smith for the first out and got Andrew Miller on a groundout to short to score Bennett from third. He appeared to be out of the inning as Patterson speared a Booth ground ball at first base, but Ortman didn't cover the bag allowing Reaves to score.

Ortman's problems continued as pinch hitter Brett Whitaker doubled to left field to score Booth all the way from first to tie the game at five. It was just his third hit of the season and was the sixth hit for a Crimson Tide batter in the game that entered hitting below .250 for the season.

That tied things at five, but Auburn was able to pull out the win and take the first game of the series against the Crimson Tide. Game two will start at 3:45 with Derek Varnadore on the mound for the Tigers against Adam Morgan for Alabama.

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