Tigers Rally For Dramatic Baseball Victory

Auburn clinched a berth in the SEC Baseball Tournament with a wild win over the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday night.

Fayetteville, Ark.--Auburn qualified for the SEC Baseball Tournament with a dramatic comeback in the ninth inning plus additional heroics on Saturday night as the Tigers took a 7-3 victory over Arkansas.

The Tigers bounced back from a Friday night 18-5 whipping by taking care of the Razorbacks in 10 innings. However, the final score doesn't begin to tell how much of a struggle it was for the Tigers.

Auburn trailed 3-0 going into the top of the ninth inning before Jovan Moran led off with a single vs. starting pitcher Gary Hogan, who had breezed past the Tigers after escaping from jams in the opening two innings. In the second inning, he got out of a bases loaded problem with nobody out.

Bobby Huddleston broke up the shutout with a double in the ninth inning, the ninth hit of the night for AU. The Razorbacks went to the bullpen for Josh Merryman, but that proved to be only a short-term answer to their problem.

Bobby Huddleston was double trouble for the Razorbacks.

After Trent Pratt was retired on a pop out and hot-hitting Tug Hulett was retired on a groundout, first baseman Scott Schade came through in dramatic fashion. On a 3-2 pitch, his long homer to center field tied the contest at 3-3 and set the stage for a wild bottom of the ninth inning.

Steven Register, who was in relief of Levale Speigner who had one of his best starts of the season allowing just five hits in eight innings, dug himself into a major hole by hitting the first two batters he faced. Register began digging out by getting pinch-hitter Cody Clark to pop out on a bunt attempt for the first out.

Register's hole became deeper when he walked the next batter on four straight pitches to load the bases, but the freshman did a Houdini by inducing a pop fly to short right field and a groundout to first base to send the game to the 10th inning.

Steven Register now has five victories without a loss.

The Tigers used their ninth inning momentum to win the game in the 10th. A leadoff base on balls to Jonathan Schuerholz by pitcher Kyler Pomeroy followed by a passed ball and a bunt single by Sean Gamble put a pair of runners on first and third with nobody out.

Arkansas made another pitching change, sending in Scott Rochl to face Moran. AU's hottest hitter sent a ground ball to the first baseman, who had a great chance to cut down Schuerholz at the plate, however, a bad throw gave the Tiger third baseman enough time to slide in safely ahead of the tag. That gave the visitors a 4-3 edge with nobody out after the fielder's choice.

Huddleston then came through again with another double to increase the lead to 5-3. He was replaced by pinch-runner Jon Tyler, who reached third base on a bloop double by Pratt over the drawn-in infield that scored Moran. Tyler then picked up the seventh run of the night by racing home on a sacrifice fly to center field by Hulett.

Register gave up a hit in the bottom half of the inning, but the Razorbacks never made a serious run as he improved his record to 5-0.

Auburn improved its record to 15-14 in the conference and moved up to fifth place in the overall league standings in a tie with Georgia. (Since the Tigers took two out of three games vs. the Bulldogs, AU would have the higher seed at the SEC Tournament if both teams are tied after Sunday's regular season finales.)

Auburn is 34-21 overall. Arkansas dropped to 29-23 overall and 12-14 in the SEC.

The Tigers are scheduled to send sophomore right-hander Eric Brandon to the mound for Sunday's 1 p.m. start. He is 3-2 with a 5.13 earned run average. Arkansas has not announced its starter.

A crowd of 3,223 watched the Tigers pound out 13 hits to just six for the home team, which took the lead with a single run in the bottom of the third on a two-out double by Scott Bridges followed by an RBI single by Michael Connar.

Levale Speigner pitched well for the Tigers.

Arkansas increased the lead to 2-0 with a Bridges home run in the sixth inning and added an insurance run in the seventh on a homer by Cody Clark.

Auburn's magic number going into the contest was one AU victory or one Mississippi State loss. The Bulldogs swept a doubleheader on Saturday, pounding Ole Miss 12-2 and 14-5. The Tigers avoided the pressure of having to win on the final day of the season to earn a berth in the SEC Tournament by coming up with one of the more exciting comebacks in AU baseball history.

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