Garrett Cooper had two hits for Auburn (9-3), including a big two-run single in the ninth inning, as the Tigers held on for the baseball win over the Crimson Tide in front of 6,911 fans.
The story of the night was Kendrick, however, as the junior college transfer dominated Alabama in relief, not allowing a hit in six innings of work while striking out eight to earn MVP honors. For the season he has thrown 16 1/3 innings and given up just four hits.
On a night when both teams struggled to find the plate and play defense, Kendrick says for him it was a matter of just getting into a groove.
"I just felt like I had command of more than one pitch tonight," Kendrick says. "I could throw them in different situations. I could go fastball, I could go change-up, and I had a pretty good curveball tonight. The mix of those pitches kind of helped out for me."
On a night when more than 20 Auburn players shaved their heads to raise money for Vs. Cancer Research, the Tigers got the job done when it counted most.
Trey Cochran-Gill gets his head shaved before the game
Holding to a slim one-run lead in the ninth, Cooper blasted a single through the left side to provide insurance for Auburn and Coach John Pawlowski says that play and Kendrick's pitching showed him something about his team.
"I thought our team responded," Pawlowski says. "I thought that was one of the biggest things we did today is we made some mistakes, but when we got down 3-1 they were very resilient. They responded. They came back. We just found a way to win today.
"Coop comes up with obviously a huge hit there in the ninth inning and I kind of lack for words the job that Conner Kendrick did," Pawlowski said. "What a masterful performance. I can't say enough about the way our team responded and certainly these guys were a major part of it tonight."
Auburn got on the board first on a cold Tuesday night at the Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery as Cooper and Patrick Savage walked to start the fourth. Catcher Blake Austin singled to left field to load the bases for freshman Jordan Ebert and the second baseman came through with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Leading 1-0 starter Dillon Ortman was in a giving mood to start the bottom of the fourth inning as he walked Brett Booth and Kenny Roberts to start the inning before Auburn's defense went sour to help Alabama take the lead. Before that would happen though Austen Smith banged a double off the wall in left field to tie the game and put runners on second and third.
Hoping to get a double play, Ortman got Kyle Overstreet to hit a grounder to shortstop, but Dan Glevenyak booted it and Roberts scored to put Alabama up 2-1. That would be it for Ortman as Kendrick came on in relief.
The Crimson Tide attempted to squeeze home a run on the first pitch, but Kendrick's throw to Austin cut down Smith at the plate for the first out. Following a strikeout, Kendrick looked like he would get out of the inning, but a Damek Tomscha error at third allowed the third run of the inning to score.
After helping Alabama in the fourth, Auburn got some help of its own in the fifth to take back the lead from the Crimson Tide. A leadoff walk to Glevenyak followed by a Ryan Tella single put the Tigers in business with the heart of the order coming to the plate. Doing his job, Tomscha bunted the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice to bring Cullen Wacker to the plate.
A veteran, Wacker pulled a ground ball to the right side to easily score Glevenyak and cut the Alabama lead to one. The Crimson Tide then decided to return the favor as errors by the shortstop and third baseman allowed Tella and Cooper to score and give the Tigers a 4-3 lead going to the bottom of the fifth.
Auburn Football Coach Gus Malzahn threw out the first pitch for the Tigers on Tuesday.
That's how things would remain until the ninth when Auburn broke the game open on the Cooper single. With one out Glevenyak reached on an error by the Alabama right fielder to give the Tigers some life. Following a Tella fly ball to right, the shortstop stole second and Alabama responded by walking Tomscha to set up the force.
Bringing in reliever Justin Kamplain to replace Keaton Haack was a bad move for the Crimson Tide as he walked Wacker to bring Cooper to the plate. His single scored two to secure the win for the Tigers as Kendrick shut the door in the ninth.
"My first at-bat I came up with the bases loaded and I didn't come through," Cooper said. "The last at-bat we were up one. I was looking for something to hit and he left a hanging slider up with two strikes. All I tried to do was put the bat on the ball. Those insurance runs were huge for Conner and he pitched a hell of a game. You can't say enough about the job he did. It was a great win and a great atmosphere."
Auburn returns to action this Friday at 6 p.m. CST as the Tigers take on Brown in the first of three games at Plainsman Park.