Auburn, Ala.--Getting outscored in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader 12-8, the Auburn Tigers appeared headed that way in game number two, but reliever Gabe Klobosits had other ideas as he allowed just one run in seven innings of relief as Butch Thompson’s club beat No. 3 Texas A&M 9-7. Getting four hits and three RBI from Daniel Robert as part of a 17-hit attack, Auburn’s offense scored single runs in the sixth and eighth to break open a tie game.
With the win Auburn improves to 10-9 on the year and 1-1 in the SEC and now the Tigers have a chance to get a series win on Sunday from the Aggies. For that to happen Thompson said his team must continue to swing the bat well but most importantly get quality pitching like Klobosits delivered out of the bullpen.
“In a nutshell our two starts were pretty rugged today against a great ballclub,” Thompson said. “Gabe coming in that third inning to finish the ballgame, I’ve never been more proud of a player and of a team. They punch because they’re good and we punched back a lot today. I think in this small window of time being here I’ve never been more proud of this club. They just kept competing and kept playing and kept getting their barrels to a good spot because they wouldn’t quit and our team didn’t quit.
Daniel Robert, offensively, he had our most hits and RBI,” Thompson said. “A coach takes so much pride in seeing how this guy has worked the last week. Him and Siss (Doug Sisson) have been in the cage extra and on the field hitting extra after everybody has gone home. To see a guy rewarded like that in a ballgame is pretty neat.”
Entering the game with an ERA of 7.59, Klobosits allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings and struck out eight to earn his first career win with the Tigers. Growing up in Katy, Tex. and playing his junior college baseball at Galveston College, Klobosits said having his best career outing against the Aggies only made things sweeter for him.
"It felt good to come out and throw seven innings after I had been struggling a couple of times," Klobosits said. "Butch just believed in me and everyone rallied around me and kept me going. There is nothing better than beating a team you grew up playing against with all of those guys. There is nothing sweeter."
At the plate Robert’s four hits led a strong attack for the Tigers as Anfernee Grier, Josh Palacios and Niko Buentello all finished with three hits in the second game on Saturday. For Palacios it was his fifth consecutive game with at least three hits as he raised his average to .435, tied with Grier for the team lead.
Coming out of a slump that had him on the bench some last week, Robert’s four hits gave him six for the two games as he raised his average from .180 to .280 in a single day. It couldn’t have come at a better time with his team needing all the offense it could get against the powerful Aggies.
“It feels great,” Robert said. “It’s finally good to know that hard work pays off. Coach Sisson, I think countless swings we took on the field and in the cage to get this thing figured out, and hopefully from here we can go forward in a positive direction and keep working as hard as we were working.
“It was pretty important obviously,” he added about his big day leading to the first SEC win of the year. “SEC play is everything. We know prior to what we did before, if we went undefeated or we didn’t win a game SEC play is what’s going to come down to our resume and making the tournament. We want to lay it all on the line for the SEC and it feels really good to do this.”
With the game tied at six in the fifth inning after both teams jumped out of the gate with four-run first innings, Auburn took its first lead of the night following back-to-back singles from Jackson Burgreen and Robert to put the Tigers in business. After a failed bunt attempt, Kyler Deese singled to right field to score Robert and give Auburn a one-run lead.
Just like they had done all day long Texas A&M answered back to tie it in the top of the sixth, but once again Auburn would respond. Singles from Anfernee Grier, Palacios and Niko Buentello loaded the bases for the Tigers with two outs. Back at the plate, Robert’s ground ball to short was booted and he beat the throw to first to allow Grier to score and put Auburn back in front.
With Klobosits rolling on the mound the Tigers finished off the scoring in the bottom of the eighth with a huge insurance run. With Ebert and Buentello on after singles to start the frame, Robert came up with one out and on the first pitch he saw from lefty reliever Ty Sclottmann he singled to center field. Ebert easily scored to make it 9-7 Auburn and Klobosits took it home from there to finish off the win.
It didn’t start out too well for the Tigers and Mize on the mound as Texas A&M jumped all over the freshman to give him a rude awakening into SEC play. Following a leadoff walk to J.B. Moss, a one-out single by Boomer White gave the Aggies some momentum and the middle of the order would make Auburn pay. A single from Hunter Melton, a double by Nick Banks and another single by Michael Barash made it quickly 4-0 Texas A&M in the first inning.
Auburn didn’t show any concern however as the Tigers responded as Grier singled and Palacios doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Following a sac fly by Ebert, Buentello singled home Palacios to cut the lead in half. Following a Jackson Burgreen single, Robert continued his hot bat with a double down the right field line to score Buentello and make it a one-run game. When Cody Nulph lifted a fly ball into the outfield to score Burgreen the game was tied at four and the battle was on.
The good feelings didn’t last long however as the Aggies responded again in the second inning. Another leadoff walk to Moss put Mize behind the eight ball and when Ryne Birk blasted a shot over the left field wall the Aggies were back in front 6-4. One inning later Auburn again answered back with Robert at the center of things.
With one out Buentello walked to give the Tigers some life and when he moved to second on a two-out balk it set the table for Robert. Getting a pitch to turn on, Robert singled to right-center to score Buentello. Stealing second to move into scoring position, Robert was off on a Nulph ground ball and when shortstop George Janca booted it Robert scored to tie the game at six. That set the stage for Auburn’s late inning push to get the win.
Auburn and Texas A&M will finish off the series at Sunday at 1 p.m. with redshirt junior Cole Lipscomb on the mound for the Tigers.