Savage and Ebert both had two hits for the Tigers as did freshman Jackson Burgreen and catcher Blake Austin on a night when just one more player had a hit for Auburn. Coach John Pawlowski's team got helped out by five Brown errors however and the Tigers played mistake-free to improve to 10-3 on the season.
"Their pitcher did a really good job and kept us off-balance," Pawlowski says. "We weren't able to piece anything together. He didn't give us any free bases and made us work. Jordan Ebert comes up with a big hit and I thought another big play in that inning was Dan Glevenyak. If he's not running hard we don't get that inside-the-park home run. Those are the things that make the difference sometimes. I thought that hustle play was a big difference in the game."
Trailing 4-3 in the seventh inning to Brown and needing some positive momentum, the Auburn Tigers turned to Ebert and he delivered. Riding a 10-game hitting streak, he got down 1-2 in the count before turning on a change-up and blasting it over the wall in left field for a home run. It was his first career homer and he says it couldn't have come at a better time.
"I got behind in the count and just tried to go the other way," Ebert says. "I wasn't going to let them beat me with a fastball away. He hung a change-up. It's just a great feeling knowing my first college home run came in a big situation. I'm as happy as I can be."
That seemed to put the Tigers at ease and bothered Brown's pitching at the same time. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Glevenyak hit a deep fly ball to center field that John Sheridan misplayed terribly running towards the wall. The ball glanced off his glove and he tried twice unsuccessfully to pick the ball up off the warning track. All the while Glevenyak never slowed down and cruised home to make it 5-4 Auburn.
Following a Ryan Tella groundout, consecutive walks to Damek Tomscha, Cullen Wacker and Garrett Cooper loaded the bases for Savage. Already with one double on the night, the junior hit a liner into left-center for a double to score all three runners and put the Tigers comfortably in front. Blake Austin then singled him home to give Auburn a five-run cushion, but the big blow belonged to Savage.
"It was a 2-1 count with the bases loaded and I was just looking for a ball up in the zone to drive," Savage says. "Luckily he gave me a fastball up. I was looking to hit it to right-center, but I got in front of it and hit it to the left-center gap. I was happy to finally have a hit fall."
Auburn got the game started right in the first inning as Burgreen greeted Brown pitcher Anthony Galan with a triple to center field. It was his first of the season and put the Tigers in business early. Following a Glevenyak groundout, Tella scorched a double down the left field line to make it 1-0 Auburn.
In the second the Tigers continued to get after Galan as Savage doubled with one out and moved to third on an Austin single through the left side. Doing his job, Ebert's ground ball erased Austin at second but Savage scored to make it 2-0. Moving to second on an errant pickoff to first, Ebert scored on a Burgreen single to give starter Daniel Koger a three-run lead to work with heading to the third.
It only took one swing of the bat to cut into the lead for Brown as Daniel Massey hit a long homer to right field to put the Bears on the scoreboard. With Auburn's bats cooling off, Brown would strike again in the sixth to knock Koger out of the game.
Struggling after taking a ball off his foot in the fifth, Koger walked Cody Slaughter to lead off the sixth inning with Auburn up 3-1. That would be all for the sophomore as reliever Trey Cochran-Gill came on in relief, but it wouldn't be his night. Getting just one out the Tallassee native allowed three hits and left the game tied at three. Williamson would get out of the inning on a pair of ground balls to keep the game tied.
In the seventh the Bears took their first lead as J.J. Franco singled to get the inning started for Brown. He is the son of former major league pitcher John Franco. Right fielder Will Marcal followed with a single to put runners on first and second, but Austin picked him off first for out number one for the Tigers. It proved to be a big play as Wes Van Boom doubled home Franco with two outs to put Brown up 4-3.
Trailing and needing something good to happen, Auburn's offense exploded in the bottom of the seventh to break the game open on the way to the win. Terrance Dedrick pitched two scoreless innings to secure the Friday night win for the Tigers.
Auburn will try to earn the series win on Saturday as juco left-hander Michael O'Neal looks for his fourth win of the season. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Plainsman Park.