Auburn will have the chance to sweep the series on Saturday as the Tigers face Georgia in a doubleheader at Plainsman Park beginning at 1 p.m. Originally the third game of the series was scheduled for Sunday, but with severe weather expected the game was moved to Saturday.
Led by Ryan Tella's four hits and three runs, Auburn's offense did enough on the night to overcome leaving 12 runners on base. With 10 of those left on base in the first five innings, it was yet another night when the Tigers fell behind early, but Pawlowski says his team just keeps battling and found a way to win.
"We were hoping we would come through again and finally we did," Pawlowski says. "Blake Austin with a couple of big doubles there and we were excited to see what Hunter Kelley did. He gets an opportunity to play and comes up with a huge double when we needed it. Our guys fought hard. Conner Kendrick clearly did not have his best stuff, but when you look at the bottom line he stayed in there as long as he could and gave us a chance to win tonight."
Getting hits in his first four at-bats before lining out to center field to end his streak, Tella raised his average 19 points in the game and set the table time and time again for the Auburn offense. He says things are just starting to click for him now as he hopes to spark the Tigers' offense to even bigger things down the road.
"I have just been working hard," Tella says. "The first two or three series I haven't been swinging well. I just kept working in the cage and on tee work and flips (soft toss) with Coach Gabe (Gross). I was just seeing it well I guess. I stayed quiet in the box and let my hands do the work."
Ryan Tella scores one of his three runs on the night.
Allowing one earned run on seven hits in five and two/thirds innings, Kendrick turned things over to Justin Camp in the sixth and he did his job as he allowed just a walk in one and one/third innings. Coming on to close things out, Terrance Dedrick was dominant as he didn't allow a runner and struck out two in two innings to pick up his third save.
"It felt pretty good," Dedrick says. "The offense did a real good job of getting back into the game and Hunter Kelley came up with a huge hit after Blake got on. They just drove the ball really good. Kendrick did a good job of keeping us in the game and so did Camp. I always like to come in at the end and help us get a win."
Georgia got on the board in the first inning following a one-out single from Hunter Cole and a two out double by Jared Walsh. The Tigers answered back however as Tella singled to bring Jordan Ebert to the plate. Getting a pitch to handle, the freshman ripped a single to right field to send the speedy Tella sprinting around second and heading for third. A bobble by Walsh in right field allowed Tella to keep running and score easily to tie the game. A two-out walk to Damek Tomscha gave the Tigers a pair of runners on base, but Jackson Burgreen's strikeout ended the rally with the game tied.
In the second inning Auburn gave the Bulldogs (12-23, 2-11) plenty of help to let the visitors score a pair of runs and pull back in front. With two outs and nobody on Kendrick walked Daniel Nichols to bring J.T. Smith to the plate. Getting a ground ball to short, Auburn looked to be out of the inning, but Dan Glevenyak booted the play for the error. That kept the inning alive for the Bulldogs and proved to be costly.
Georgia veteran Curt Powell followed with a single to score Nichols with the unearned run and put the Bulldogs back in front 2-1. Another single by Cole, his second of the game, made it a two-run advantage for the visitors headed to the bottom of the second.
Getting a pair of runners on base in the second, the Tigers would fail to score off Georgia starter Patrick Boling. That trend continued in the third inning as well before Auburn would chip away at the lead in the fourth thanks once again to Tella.
With two outs and nobody on Tella singled up the middle and stole second on the first pitch to move into scoring position. A walk to Ebert brought Wacker to the plate and once again the senior came through, this time with a single. Tella scored to cut the lead to 3-2 and Auburn would come back for more in the sixth.
Leading off, Tella continued his hot night with a double to stay hot. Following a sacrifice bunt by Ebert to move him to third base, Wacker did his job with a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Now back even and with Camp pitching well, the Tigers finally moved in front in the seventh.
Already with one double on the night, Austin ripped a one-out pitch off the wall under the scoreboard for his second two-bagger of the game. Up in place of Sam Gillikin in right field after coming on as a pinch runner, Hunter Kelley followed suit as his double scored the catcher from second to put the Tigers ahead 4-3. From there it was all Dedrick as he pitched two perfect innings to close out the win and give Auburn first blood in the series.
Auburn will send junior Michael O'Neal to the mound on Saturday to faced Georgia in game one of the doubleheader with fellow junior lefty Will Kendall slated for game two. The first game will begin at 1 p.m. with the second 45 minutes after the conclusion of game one.