AU Offense Breaks Out In 8-5 Win Over Rebels

Auburn evened the series with #18 Ole Miss after busting out of an offensive funk in an 8-5 win Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.—Struggling to score runs in SEC games of late, the Auburn Tigers broke out Saturday night in an 8-5 win over the #18 Ole Miss Rebels with 12 hits to even the series and improve to 26-19 overall and 8-15 in SEC play. Catcher Blake Austin went 4-4 with three doubles to lead the way for Coach John Pawlowski's club in a much-needed win at Plainsman Park.

"There has been a lot of hard work in the cages," Austin says. "There has been a lot of hard work since Mississippi State the last two or three weeks. Going 0-fer lit a fire underneath me.

"Tonight started with Garrett Cooper in the first inning," he adds. "We get three pitches in and have two outs and Cooper goes in there and battles to work the count. He gets a base hit to set the tone for the rest of the game."

On the mound starter Michael O'Neal allowed four runs on seven hits in four innings with reliever Justin Camp coming in and picking up his fifth win of the season after giving up one run on three hits in two and one/third innings. Closer Terrance Dedrick was again fantastic, striking out three and not allowing a hit in two and two/thirds to earn his sixth save.

"He came on during a big situation because their best hitter was up," Pawlowski says. "He hurt us yesterday and earlier in this game he came up and got a double into the corner. We needed to execute some pitches and Terrance did a great job."

Auburn got off to a good start in the first inning thanks to a streak-breaking hit. With two outs and nobody, on senior first baseman Garrett Cooper singled to right field and back-to-back walks Kody Ortman and Dan Glevenyak loaded the bases for Jordan Ebert. Entering the game Auburn was a combined 0-19 with the bases loaded in the SEC play this season, but the freshman didn't become a statistic. Getting a pitch to hit, Ebert singled up the middle to score a pair of runs and make it 2-0 Auburn.

O'Neal ran into trouble in both the second and third innings as the Rebels scored a single run in both to tie the game heading to the fourth. That's when Austin came through for the Tigers with a two-out double to put a runner in scoring position for Hunter Kelley. Swinging the bat well, the junior college transfer singled to score Austin and put Auburn back in front.

Now leading 3-2, O'Neal allowed a pair of singles to start the fifth inning as Pawlowski went to the bullpen for Justin Camp. He quickly made things worse as Ole Miss catcher Stuart Turner lifted a fly ball down the left field line that fell in for a double to tie the game. With runners now on second and third Ole Miss got a ground ball to take the lead and then a single from Andrew Mistone to jump out to a 5-3 lead halfway through.

In the sixth inning Ryan Tella broke an 0-22 slump with a one-out single to knock Mayers out of the game and bring on reliever Aaron Greenwood for the Rebels. That proved to be a big decision in the game as Damek Tomscha greeted the reliever with a long home run over the left field wall to tie the game again at five. Austin's second double of the game led to another run as he moved to third and scored on a Wacker fly ball for a 6-5 Auburn lead.

"We had some big hits tonight," Pawlowski says. "Damek came up with the big home run to get us back in it and Blake had the big double off the wall. I thought we gained some confidence during the course of the game today."

Tanner Mathis led off with a single to open the seventh inning for Ole Miss and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt to bring Dedrick out of the bullpen for the Tigers. Getting out of the jam, the junior cruised through the final two innings to secure the win for Auburn and even the series.

Sunday's game is scheduled for 1 p.m. with junior Daniel Koger getting the start for the Tigers.

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