Leading 5-2 in the ninth inning, Auburn gave up three runs to tie the game before Tella's heroics led Auburn to the victory. With the win the Tigers improve to 9-6 on the season while Mercer falls to 12-5.
"It was a strange game," Golloway said. "I thought we played pretty good at times, but there are still some things we've got to work on. We're a work in progress.
"It's really a big vote of confidence the way we were able to do it," he added of the win. "Give it to Tella. He did a good job. He battled because there were some borderline pitches he kept fouling off. I'm really proud of the way they fought at the end. We really needed that. We needed one of those games like that."
It was part of a big day for both Tella and Ebert as the duo combined for six of Auburn's 10 hits. On the mound starter Michael O'Neal allowed just two unearned runs on three hits in six and two/thirds innings to get a no-decision.
Jay Wade and Trey Cochran-Gill combined for one and one/third scoreless innings before turning the pitching duties over to closer Terrance Dedrick in the ninth with a three-run lead. He was touched up for three runs on four hits to set the stage for the ninth inning drama from Tella.
Leading off the inning with a single, Ebert stole second to move into scoring position with one out and Damon Haecker at the plate. Trying to catch Mercer off-guard, Haecker bunted the ball down the third base line but was thrown out at first for the second out. With Damek Tomscha swinging a hot bat, Mercer decided to walk him and pitch instead to Blake Austin. That didn't work out either as Ben Lumsden's pitch was too far inside, hitting Austin on the elbow to load the bases with two outs.
Ryan Tella singles home Jordan Ebert in the ninth
Already with two hits on the day, including a triple, Tella stepped in looking for Mercer to try to work him with breaking balls. Instead Lumsden challenged the senior away time after time with the fastball and Tella fouled off four pitches before taking one the other way. The liner bounced into left field for a single to score Ebert with the game winner for the Tigers.
"I was just looking to put something in place somewhere," Tella said. "That's all I needed to do really. I didn't need to hit a bomb or a gap-shot or a double, I just needed to put the ball in play and see what they could do with it. I was able to find a hole and be successful out there.
"It's huge for our confidence," he added. "T.D. (Dedrick) did a good job. He threw strikes and we were able to fight back because we're a team. We're going to stay together. No one is going to go off. We loaded the bases. Blake took one and got me up. We just keep fighting till the end."
Not getting a run of support in his first two starts this season, O'Neal got some help right away from senior first baseman Tomscha in the first inning. With two outs and nobody on, Tomscha worked the count against Mercer starting pitcher Eric Nyquist before getting a good pitch to hit. He didn't miss it, driving it over the left field wall for his third home run of the season.
Back in the rotation, O'Neal cruised through the first four innings before his defense failed him in the top of the fifth. Leading off the inning catcher Charlie Madden's ground ball was booted by Connor Short at third. The error gave the Bears life as Derrick Workman bunted him over to second and into scoring position for left fielder Kyle Lewis.
O'Neal did his job, getting a fly ball to right field for what appeared to be the second out, but Anfernee Grier dropped the ball to put runners on second and third for number hit hitter Matt Meeder. He made Auburn pay as his bloop single to left field scored both runners and put Mercer up 2-1.
Jordan Ebert had a big day with three hits and two stolen bases
One inning later the Tigers would take back the lead by playing perfect small ball. Leading off the inning Ebert singled to bring Grier to the plate. Executing a hit and run, Grier hit a high chopper to shortstop that sent Meeder deep into the hole. His throw across the diamond was not in time, but it also allowed Ebert to scamper around second and into third to put runners on the corners with nobody out.
A player who handles the bat really well, Haecker's bunt back to the mound was fielded by Nyquist, but his throw to the plate short-hopped the catcher to allow Ebert to slide in safely and tie the game. With runners on first and second, a Tomscha bunt moved both into scoring position for Austin. Taking a pitch the other way, Austin's single pushed Grier across to make it 3-2 Auburn.
The Tigers added insurance in the bottom of the eighth as Tella tripled to lead things off and scored on a squeeze off the bat of Burgreen. Leading 5-2 Auburn put the ball in the hands of Dedrick, but it wasn't the senior's day. Giving up a leadoff double to second baseman Michael Massi and a triple to pinch-hitter Danny Edgeworth to start the inning, Dedrick's day went from bad to worse as Derrick Workman's single up the middle cut the Auburn lead to one with still nobody out.
Following a sacrifice bunt that moved Workman to second, the fourth hit of the inning put runners on the corners for leadoff hitter Sasha Lagarde. Giving Auburn a taste of its own medicine, Mercer executed a squeeze that easily scored Workman to tie the game at five. With two outs and runners on first and second, first baseman Austin Barrett reached on an infield single to load the bases up for big DH Nick Backlund. Coming back strong, Dedrick got him swinging to end the inning and give Auburn a chance to win it in the ninth with just a single run.
Auburn will have a pair of mid-week games before opening conference play against Texas A&M this weekend. The Tigers will travel to Kennesaw State on Tuesday night before returning home to face Alabama State on Wednesday night.