Bell Tolls For Tigers In Win Over Boston College

Auburn's Josh Bell homered twice to lead the Tigers to a 6-5 extra-inning win over Boston College Friday at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the strangest games in recent memory for the Auburn Tigers ended on a good note for the home team as Josh Bell hit his second home run of the night in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Auburn a 6-5 victory over Boston College Friday night. Following a 10-minute delay over pitching substitutions by the Eagles, Bell deposited a 2-0 fastball from pitcher Ryan Morgan over the right field wall for the game-winner. The home runs were part of a career-high four hits for Bell on the day.

"The last one I was mainly thinking about getting on," Bell said. "I didn't care how, whether it was getting hit or getting a walk. That way somebody could bunt me up so Clete (Clete Thomas) or Sean (Sean Gamble) can just drive me in. I'll take that anyday though, to hit one out.

"It feels good, but mainly I'm just glad we won. It was really an emotionally draining game. We went real down and real high. I'm just glad we learned a lot today. It really showed our team that we're real tough and we'll keep on battling. I like it a lot."

Josh Bell has one of his career-high four hits on Friday.

While Bell was the offensive story, the day on the mound belonged to transfer Michael Nix. In his first appearance of the season Nix allowed just one hit and one run in two innings of work to keep Auburn within range of Boston College late in Friday's game. Senior Cory Dueitt came on to pitch the last two innings to earn the victory, giving up just one hit in the process.

"He was the story," Auburn Coach Steve Renfroe said. "He changed the momentum. He got it back even though we were still down. When you're at home and all of the sudden a guy is electric and stops them like that, you could just feel our guys gaining confidence. He gained confidence as he went along."

The visiting Eagles wasted little time in getting used to the great outdoors as they scored in the top of the first to take an early lead despite not having practiced outside this spring in Chestnutt Hill. With one out catcher Garrett Greer earned a walk from Hughey and quickly stole second to put a runner in scoring position. Center fielder Drew Locke then took advantage of an 0-2 pitch to drill a double down the left field line to score Greer and give BC a 1-0 lead.

Auburn got the run back in the bottom half of the first thanks to Bell's first long ball of the night. With two outs and nobody on, Bell drilled a fastball from O'Donnell deep over the right field wall for his third home run of the season, all in the last three games. That is the first time an Auburn player has homered in three consecutive games since Gabe Gross accomplished the feat in 2001.

"The thing that I'm excited about is that he's having an approach," Renfroe said. "It's not just the same swing all the time. He's really attacking guys. When he starts hitting balls out of right field and he's consistently making adjustments, he'll be one of the most feared hitters around. That takes maturity, but he's certainly doing that for us."

Boston College took the lead back in the third inning on a Jason Delaney double that scored Morgan. Auburn would come back to tied the game in the fourth thanks to the bat of J.T. Williamson and some questionable defense by the Eagles. With Derek Sain on first after a single to center, Williamson came to the plate with two outs hoping to get Auburn back on the board. Going with the pitch off BC starter Matt O'Donnell, Williamson lined a fly ball into left field that Delaney mis-played. The ball rolled past him into left field and Sain raced around third to score Auburn's second run and tie the game.

Shortstop Chuck Jeroloman returned to action for the Tigers after missing last Sunday's game because of an injury.

Junior Arnold Hughey, Auburn's starting pitcher, didn't have his best stuff on Friday and would not survive the fifth inning before being replaced. After walking Garrett Greer to lead off the inning, Hughey was taken out in favor John Madden. That didn't help things any as Madden proceeded to walk four Boston College hitters before the inning was done. Trailing 4-2, things didn't look good for the home team.

The Tigers missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the seventh inning as rotating relievers Morgan and Dave Preziosi couldn't find the zone. Boston College's first baseman, Morgan exchanged places to face one batter in the inning and that would come into play again before the game was done.

Tug Hulett led off for Auburn and earned a walk to bring Bell to the plate. He too would earn a walk and Thomas would follow with one as well to load the bases for Gamble. Gamble didn't have a pitch to offer at before he would also earn a walk to make it 4-3 BC with still nobody out. Unfortunately that would be all for the Tigers as a fly ball from Jeroloman and back-to-back strikeouts by Ben Sprague and Bruce Edwards closed out the scoring and left Auburn down heading to the eighth.

Things would remain that way until the ninth when BC would add a run to push the lead out to 5-3. All looked bleak for the Tigers, but just as they always do they made things interesting in the last at-bat. Gamble led off the inning with a walk on four pitches, but Jeroloman didn't deliver as he struck out to bring Sprague to the plate. Sitting on a fastball, he drilled a single into center field to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Josh Sullivan then got hit by a pitch to load the bases Williamson.

Auburn's smallest player, Williamson hit a liner up the middle that appeared to be headed into center field, but Leahy made a diving stop and flipped to second for the out. The throw to first just pulled Morgan off the bag, allowing Williamson to reach and Sprague to advance to third. Hitless on the night, Ben Maitland came through in the clutch as he singled through the left side to score Sprague and tie the game. A Hulett groundout put an end to the inning and set the stage for Bell's heroics in the 10th.

With Bell due up first in the inning, Boston College decided to put Morgan back into the game to pitch to Bell. Having never come out of the lineup, he was allowed to return to the game after a lengthy discussion between both coaches and the umpires. In the end the discussion was all for nothing as Bell drilled a pitch deep over the "K Korner" in right field to end the game.

Box Score

Auburn and Boston College will play game two of the series on Saturday at 3 p.m. Senior Colby Paxton takes the mound for the Tigers against left-hander Kevin Shepard for BC. Paxton is 1-0 on the season with a 0.00 ERA while Shepard was 8-3 last year with a 2.44 ERA.

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