Austin Saves The Day For Tigers In 2-1 Win

Auburn catcher Blake Austin doubled home pinch runner Sam Gillikin in the ninth inning to give the Tigers a 2-1 win over Alabama State.

Auburn, Ala.—Five Alabama State pitchers combined to hold Auburn to just three hits on Wednesday night, but the last one was the one that mattered as junior catcher Blake Austin came off the bench to hit a double to score pinch runner Sam Gillikin for the 2-1 victory. Held hitless for the first seven and two/thirds innings, Auburn survived what would have been a devastating loss to the Hornets.

Offensively it was a night of futility for the Tigers as Pawlowski started Kody Ortman behind the plate, Bobby Andrews in left field and Hunter Kelley in right field, getting away from his weekend lineup. It didn't work as Auburn finished with just three hits and very few hard hit balls for the game. He says it was sluggish from start to finish offensively, but his team found a way to win.

"Give Alabama State credit," Auburn Coach John Pawlowski says. "They pitched extremely well. I know it's frustrating for our hitters, but you win and move on. I thought our pitchers, we won the free base war. There were no hit-by-pitches and no walks. With that many guys going in there they did an outstanding job."

On the mound Auburn (20-13) got quality outings from five different pitchers. Starter Trey Cochran-Gill allowed one unearned run on two hits in two innings. Reliever Chase Williamson didn't allow a baserunner in his two innings while Dillon Ortman allowed just one hit in two innings before giving way to Justin Camp. He allowed just one hit and struck out two with Terrance Dedrick pitching the final two/thirds of an inning, striking out two to pick up his third win of the year. All together Auburn's pitchers allowed just four hits, struck out nine

Alabama State got its only run of the game in the first inning as Cochran-Gill allowed two-out singles to Richard Gonzalez and Waldyvan Estrada to put a runner on third for the Hornets. It proved to be huge as Branden Castro's ground ball to Garrett Cooper at first base was fielded cleanly, but his toss to Cochran-Gill was high. The error allowed the run to score for the 1-0 lead for ASU.

Auburn answered back in the third without the benefit of a hit as Ryan Tella walked with two outs and moved to second on a walk to Jordan Ebert. Following a Cullen Wacker hit by pitch, Cooper walked to force home Tella for Auburn's first run.

With the Tigers struggling mightily at the plate that's how things would remain until the bottom of the ninth. Cooper walked to lead off the inning to bring Damek Tomscha to the plate. Attempting to bunt the runner over, Tomscha bunted the ball out in front of the plate. Attempting to make the play, pitcher Armando Ruiz slid down allowing the third baseman to reach with a single.

Back in action for the first time this season, Andrews attempted to bunt the runners over, but his bunt was too strong and Cooper was thrown out at third base. That brought Austin to the plate. Inserted into the game for defensive purposes in the eighth inning, Austin drove a pitch high off the wall in left field for a double to score Gillikin with the game winner.

Auburn got hits from Ebert, Tomscha and Austin in the win with the hit for Ebert extending his hitting streak to 10 games.

The Tigers return to action this weekend as they face the Georgia Bulldogs in a three-game series at Plainsman Park. Game times are 6 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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