Auburn, Ala.--Struggling to get its offense going on a blustery Sunday at Plainsman Park after falling 11-5 a day earlier, Auburn broke open a close baseball game with 13 runs in its final three at-bats to defeat Binghamton 13-2 and take the series.
Junior outfielder Jordan Ebert led the way with three hits, three RBI and three runs scored as the Tigers pounded out 10 hits in the last four innings to blow away the Bearcats.
The most experienced player on Auburn’s roster, Ebert knew it was a critical time in the development of this 2015 team and because of that he knew Sunday was one of those days that require a call to arms.
“It’s tough to come to the ballpark when you get your butt whooped the day before,” Ebert said. “I was really interested to see how this team would come back and react.
"The first five or six innings we were kind of playing with our tail between our legs," he pointed out. "I challenged this team in the bottom of the sixth before we went out and hit and said, ‘You know what, we’ve got to earn this AU on our chest and we’re not going to roll out of bed and beat teams. We’re going to have to work out butts off to win every single game'’’.
“Hats off to Binghamton,” he added. “That’s a quality club that has been to a regional the last couple of years. Anfernee gets up there and smokes a triple the first pitch and we end up taking on four, then we get nine more. I’m just so proud of this team.
"There are a lot of inexperienced guys playing right now and it’s going to take some getting used to," Ebert added. "We’ve got some things to work on, but I’m so proud of this team and what we accomplished today. Today was a big stepping stone for this team.”
On the mound senior Rocky McCord allowed a run on three hits and struck out four in five innings of work before turning things over to the bullpen. In three innings Robbie Clements allowed a run on four hits before Justin Camp finished things with a perfect ninth inning to secure the win.
Getting off to a slow start before blowing the game open, the Tigers got a big Sunday win to build some confidence heading into a week with games against South Alabama and Alabama State. Coach Sunny Golloway said he was proud of the way his team just kept battling until finally breaking through on Sunday.
“We were faced with adversity after losing and they tied the series,” Golloway said. “It’s a series you are expected to win. I’m sure everybody in the country expects Auburn to win that series. Then we don’t score in the first five because Hardy (Rob Hardy) is throwing the ball well. I like to think that even though he’s on a pitch count we could have gotten to him in the sixth or seventh. Somebody else was out there and our guys got to him and took care of it.”
Binghamton got on the board first against the Tigers with a single run in the second off McCord. With Jason Agresti on first base following an error, Paul Rufo doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Getting a pitch to pull, Nick Pancerella laced a ground ball to the left side that third baseman Alex Polston made a dive for and gloved. His throw across the diamond was good enough for the first out of the inning. With a runner still in scoring position McCord recovered to get the final two outs and keep it 1-0 Binghamton.
Rocky McCord was solid in his first start of the season.
With just one hit in the first five innings, Auburn got a break when Binghamton went to the bullpen to start the sixth inning. Facing reliever Casey Wenzel, Anfernee Grier got a pitch to drive and didn’t miss it as his blast to the gap in left-center wound up as a leadoff triple. Damon Haecker followed with a walk to keep the pressure on the Bearcats and bring Cody Nulph to the plate. Battling to keep thing inning going, Nulph was hit by a pitch to load the bases and bring Ebert to the plate.
Bringing in freshman Nick Wegmann to face Ebert proved to be the wrong move as the junior laced a single through the right side to score Grier and tie the game at one. Pinch hitter Bo Decker then hit a ground ball to Binghamton third baseman Nick Schanz, but his throw to the plate pulled the catcher off the dish. The error allowed Haecker to score to put Auburn in front.
A 1-2-3 double play off the bat of catcher Blake Logan looked like it would end the Auburn threat, but before the inning was done Binghamton would hit another batter and walk two more to force across a pair of runs.
Now leading 4-1, Auburn gave one back in the seventh as Darian Herncane tripled and scored on a Zach Blanden single to move the Bearcats back to within two, but the Tigers would answer back and then some.
Leading off the bottom of the seventh Damon Haecker singled and moved to second on a Nulph bunt. Following an intentional walk to Ebert it was time for Decker to deliver. His double to center field scored both runners to give Auburn a commanding 6-2 lead. Sophomore J.J. Shaffer added to the lead with a two-out single to easily score Decker from second.
The Tigers put the nail in Binghamton’s coffin in the eighth with six more runs with the big blow coming off the bat of Ebert. Already with two hits for the day, Ebert singled home two more off reliever Joe Orlando to make it 10-2 Auburn. Decker added a sacrifice fly to score Nulph from third for the 11th run of the game for the Tigers. Freshman Hunter Tackett continued the onslaught with a triple to score Ebert. It was his first career hit for the outfielder and brought Polston to the plate. With just one hit for the weekend the juco transfer drilled a single to left to put Auburn up 13-2 and that’s how it would end.
Auburn returns to action Tuesday when the Tigers travel to Mobile to face South Alabama. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
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