Tigers Take Down Scrappy Alabama State Squad

Cole Lipscomb earned his first career win and the Tigers hit three home runs in a 7-5 win over Alabama State.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn got three home runs, including a two-run shot from Jordan Ebert as part of a four-run sixth inning, to outlast a scrappy Alabama State team 7-5 on a cold afternoon at Plainsman Park. Starter Cole Lipscomb picked up his first career win for the Tigers while Justin Camp got his second save of the year, but it wasn’t without some drama.

That started early as Alabama State didn’t waste any time getting to Lipscomb as the Hornets put together a two-out rally in the first inning to score three runs. With two down and nobody on Einar Muniz singled, the first of five straight singles for Alabama State in the inning. By the time P.J. Harris finished things off Auburn was down 3-0 and in a quick hole.

It was a tough position for the redshirt sophomore now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, but Lipscomb responded by pitching six innings to earn his first win at Auburn. Allowing four runs on eight hits, he said it was a big day for him.

“It felt great,” Lipscomb said. “It has been a long journey coming back from surgery. It just felt good to get out there and get my first start under my belt and give myself a chance to win. It was a big group effort and a big team win. I’m just proud we got the W.”

That team effort included home runs from Daniel Robert and Hunter Tacket to go along with Ebert. The three home runs account for 20 percent of the total of 15 from a season ago for Auburn. Shortstop Cody Nulph was the only Auburn player with two hits on the day, but Coach Sunny Golloway said this day was about battling through adversity and finding a way to win.

“I talked to the team before the game about being a team that could get some two-out rallies going, and what happens Alabama State comes out and puts a two-out rally on us with five-straight hits,” Golloway said. “Three of those balls barely make it through the infield, that’s adversity, that’s baseball.

“That’s adversity coming back from a late night trip,” he added. “The weather has been adversity for two days. Then to have to overcome that against a pretty good Alabama State team (was important).”

That’s how things would stand until the fourth inning when the long ball parade started for the Tigers. Leading it off was Robert. Back from a four-game suspension, he drove a pitch into the bullpen to put Auburn on the scoreboard. Up next, freshman Hunter Tackett lifted a fly ball to left that rode a strong wind out of the park for home run number two on the day.

Auburn eventually loaded the bases in the inning with just one out thanks to a hit by pitch and a walk. With the opportunity to tie the game or take the lead center fielder Anfernee Grier lined a pitch down the third base line, but Muniz gloved it to start an inning-ending double play.

In the fifth the Tigers would tie the game as Ebert and Damon Haecker walked to start the inning. A Robert ground ball to second retired Ebert at second and left runners on the corners for Auburn with just one out and Bo Decker at the plate. What looked to be the second out of the inning on a pop up to second base proved to be a sacrifice fly as Haecker was heads-up on the shallow fly ball and broke towards the plate, scoring easily.

With the game tied, Lipscomb went back to work in the sixth, but the Hornets would touch him up for a run to take the lead back. Leading off with a double, Hunter Allen moved to third on an infield single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Trying to play small ball, Alabama State attempted a squeeze but Allen was caught in a rundown for the first out.

It proved to be a big blow as Yamil Pagan singled to right field to score Marcus Harris. Fortunately for Auburn Marcus Swint was too aggressive rounding second base and was thrown out for out number two. That effectively ended the Alabama State threat, but not before the Hornets took the lead back 4-3. That set the stage for the big sixth inning that would eventually give the Tigers the win.

Leading the inning off, Blake Logan singled and then advanced to third on a one-out double from Grier to bring Haecker to the plate. Getting a pitch he could handle, Haecker lacked it into left field for a double of his own to score two runs and give Auburn the 5-4 lead. That’s when Ebert did his thing, taking a pitch over the left field wall to make it a three-run lead for the Tigers.

Alabama State cut the lead back to two with a solo home run off Robby Clements in the eighth inning. Facing Camp in the ninth the Hornets loaded the bases with two outs before the redshirt junior struck out Allen to secure the win.

The Tigers return to action this weekend with a three-game series against Radford at Plainsman Park. Game times are 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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