"It was a big win," Coach Steve Renfroe said. "We grinded it out. We were trying to find a tent to put on that circus for a while because there were balls going everywhere. It was one of those grind-it-out games and gutting it out on the third day. We just keep finding ways to make plays when we have to. This is a gutty ballclub."
Freshman pitcher Mike Felix had a solid outing for the Tigers, allowing just four hits and three runs in four and two/thirds innings. He also had a career-high seven strikeouts in his work on the day before turning the game over to the Auburn bullpen.
In his first career road start, Felix got off to a bit of a rough start as a one-out walk to Garrick Evans came back to haunt him when Brad McCann hit a ground ball to Josh Sullivan at third that the sophomore couldn't handle and his throw bounced away from first baseman Derek Sain. Evans had reached second on a stolen base and the error by Sullivan allowed him to score the game's first run.
After being held scoreless in the first two innings, Auburn survived what could have been big trouble in the second. With one out Russell Triplett was hit by a Felix pitch to get things going and Travis Storrer followed that up with a single to center field. Felix struck out the next Clemson hitter, but both Triplett and Storrer were off with the two-strike pitch and just like that there were runners on second and third with two outs. Again Evans would be the catalyst for Clemson as he hit a slow roller to third for an infield single to score Triplett and make it 2-0. Felix would escape the jam with a strikeout to end the inning.
Auburn finally got the offense going off Clemson starter Tony Sipp in the third inning and it was an unlikely figure that got things going. Catching with Josh Bell in the designated hitter spot, Mike Hyntka reached on a walk and moved to second base on a balk by Sipp. Clete Thomas was next and he singled to left to put runners on first and third with nobody out.
Ben Sprague continued his clutch hitting with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Hyntka from third with Auburn's first run of the game. Thomas then did some running as he took off from first only to have Sipp throw to first. Fortunately for Auburn his throw was wild and Thomas cruised into third on the error. Second baseman Tug Hulett then made Clemson pay with a soft single to center that scored Thomas and tied the game at two.
After tying the game in the third, Auburn broke it open in the fourth thanks to some shaky defense by the home team and some clutch hitting. Sullivan led off the inning with a bloop single to left and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sain. Hyntka earned another walk to put runners on first and second for Thomas, who came through with a double to right field that scored Sullivan from second. Sprague then followed with a double of his own into right field that scored by Hnytka and Thomas to make it 5-2 Auburn.
With Sprague on second Hulett earned a walk in front of Bell, who did the damage again with a single to center field that scored Sprague. Struggling in his first two at-bats, Chuck Jeroloman hit a slow roller to third that McCann fielded and threw high to John Ingram at first. The throw pulled him off the bag and Jeroloman upended the freshman. The play allowed Hulett to score Auburn's fifth run of the inning and take a 7-2 lead.
Single runs by both Clemson and Auburn made it 8-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Auburn's run came on a groundout by Jeroloman to score Sprague after he walked to lead off the inning. Down, but not out, Clemson came back with some fire in the sixth. Pinch-hitting, Herman Demmink led off the inning with a double off Auburn reliever Mike Nix, who had come on for Felix in the fifth inning to get the final out.
That double would end Nix's day just as quickly as Renfroe went to the bullpen for Bell because of Steven Register's long use on Saturday. The sophomore quickly got a ground ball from Triplett that moved Demmink to third. Storrer then reached on an infield single that scored Demmink and pinch-hitter Zane Green then hit a slow roller to Sullivan at third. Struggling in the field, Sullivan threw low and Sain couldn't handle it, allowing Clemson to have runners on first and second. Evans then put a cap on his monster day with a double to right field that scored both Storrer and Green to make the score 8-6 Auburn.
Bell would settle down the rest of the way though as he held the powerful Clemson offense scoreless in the seventh and eighth and turned the game over to his offense in the ninth to get some insurance. That's just what they did as Jeroloman led off the inning with a bloop double into right field. After moving up to third on a Gamble groundout, he scored when Sain lined a single past McCann into left field. Ahead 9-3, Renfroe turned it over to Register and he mowed down the final three hitters to earn his fifth save of the season.