Tigers Take Thriller And Series Vs. Bulldogs

Auburn rallied for an important extra inning victory over Georgia on Sunday at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's penchant for one-run baseball games continued on Sunday as Trent Pratt doubled home Jonathan Schuerholz with the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Tigers the 8-7 win.

That gave the Tigers the series win over the Georgia Bulldogs and puts Auburn's magic number for making the SEC Baseball Tournament at just one. One Auburn victory this weekend or one Mississippi State loss to Ole Miss puts the Tigers in postseason play.

"Last night I felt pretty bad because I had one dink hit and we lost," Schuerholz said following the game. "I had a couple of chances to drive in runs and I didn't. It hurts a lot more when you lose. When you win and you struggle it doesn't matter. To see these guys come out there and give it all they've got, that's what it's all about. Pratt had a chance to win the game earlier and grounded into a double play. To see him get the game-winning hit was just awesome."

Jonathon Schuerholz is greeted at home after scoring the winning run for the Tigers.

That word could also describe the job that relievers Arnold Hughey and Steven Register did for the Tigers. Pitching the final five innings of the game in relief of starter Eric Brandon and reliever Mike Mueller, the duo combined to allow just three hits and one run while striking out six. Register picked up his fourth win of the season by pitching two/thirds of an inning. Brandon had his best outing in weeks, pitching five and two/thirds innings and allowing four runs on 10 hits, leaving the game in the sixth with a 7-4 lead. Although the Bulldogs came back to send it to extra-innings, Register was able to close the door and give the Tigers a shot to win it late.

"Arnold threw great," Register said. "He threw about three or four innings that were great. That was huge for us. When they called on me to come in there and do it I tried to get the job done and get the team a win."

Pitching for the second time in three days, Register said that he had no choice but to give it his all against the Bulldogs, being a Georgian from nearby Columbus.

"My arm wasn't feeling too good, but I was throwing on all adrenaline out there. I was pumped up and it is a home-state school. I just wanted to get the win for the team."

It looked as though Auburn would end the game in the ninth inning as the Tigers got runners on first and second with nobody out with Bobby Huddleston at the plate. Working the count, he drilled a line drive that Georgia second baseman Marshall Szabo gloved in self defense and threw to Jon Armitage covering second base for the force and the first out of the inning. That would become important as Pratt stepped to the plate looking to end things. It almost happened as he poked a fly ball down the right field line that fell just inches foul forcing him to try again. The second time around wasn't kind as he grounded into an inning-ending double play to force Hughey to keep the Bulldogs from scoring.

With one out in the top of the 11th, Hughey gave up a bloop double to right field. Staring at the prospect of facing a right-handed batter with the left-hander Hughey on the mound, Auburn coach Steve Renfroe decided to make the change in favor of Register. That proved to be a good move as he struck out both batters he faced to close the inning and bring the Tigers to the plate for the win.

Steven Register came through for the Tigers on Sunday just as he had done on Friday night vs. the Bulldogs.

Schuerholz got things going by earning a walk from Georgia reliever Brandon Anglin. Sean Gamble then executed the sacrifice bunt perfectly, moving the Atlanta native to second base with one out. Swinging away, Javon Moran narrowly missed ending the game as he flew out to left field on a pitch that he hit off the end of the bat.

Auburn was now in a dilemma. In the ninth inning Huddleston had been replaced by John Tyler as a pinch-runner. Not known for his hitting but for his defense, Tyler was due up next.

Deciding to take a chance, Renfroe sent freshman Kyle Bohm to the plate. With only a handful of at-bats to his credit this season, Bohm would be put in a tough situation for a young player. Working the count in his favor and getting ahead 2-0, Bohm watched strike one from new reliever William Sartain but the next two pitches weren't close as he earned a walk setting the stage for Pratt.

"Kyle Bohm," Renfroe smiled. "That was a freshman at-bat. He wasn't taking. That's a disciplined at-bat for a kid that has seven at-bats and it's game time. That was a huge walk. It brings up a senior and then Trent gets the big double to win it."

With a runner on second base and less than two outs, the Bulldogs were forced to bring their outfielders in to try to cut off the winning run at home plate on a single. That worked in Auburn's favor as Pratt got ahead 2-0 in the count and then said he was looking for just one pitch, the one he got.

"I knew I hit it good enough for it to get in the gap and be down," Pratt said. "He got 2-0 and I was sitting for a dead-red fastball. He had been working everybody away so I was looking for a fastball over the plate. He threw it out there and I just got the barrel on it and hit it in the gap."

The double easily scored Schuerholz from second base setting off a surprisingly tame celebration from the Auburn team. With Arkansas' sweep of Ole Miss, the Tigers know they've still got business to take care of this weekend if they hope to reach their goal of making the SEC Tournament. Still Pratt said this was very big for the Tigers.

"There's no small games," Pratt said. "You look at it and a couple of close ones we lost earlier could turn into big ones now. They've been big all year. We had an outstanding performance by Arnold Hughey today to keep us right there. That was unbelievable by him today. Then Steven came in and got Arnold out of the jam. The two freshmen pitchers were huge today, that's what got us the win."

Huddleston led the way for the Tigers with three hits and three RBI. Included in that was his ninth home run of the season. Pratt, Moran and Schade all chipped in with two hits each with Pratt blasting his eighth home run of the season in the third inning, part of a five-run Auburn explosion to give the Tigers the lead at 5-1.

After Georgia scored a single run in the top of the fourth inning, the Tigers came back with a pair of runs thanks to Huddleston. After a Moran single, Huddleston jumped on the first pitch he saw and drove it deep over the left field wall for a two-run shot. That gave Auburn what looked to be a commanding 7-2 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth inning. But just like in games before the Tigers couldn't make the lead stand up.

RBI singles by Armitage and Kris Edge in the inning chased Brandon in favor of Mueller. The big junior would get out of the inning, but give way to Hughey in the seventh as the Bulldogs put three runs on the board to tie the game at seven.

The Tigers now face the tough task of playing the hot Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville for a three-game series. Auburn leads the Razorbacks by a game and a half heading into the SEC's final weekend of play. Before that though Auburn is host to the Top 25-ranked South Alabama Jaguars Tuesday at 6 p.m. in a make-up game from earlier in the season that was rained out. Auburn defeated the Jaguars in a single game earlier this season in Mobile.

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