Jones Rallies Tigers To Win Over Trojans

Junior Ben Jones came off the bench smacked two hits, including the game winner for the Tigers, in a 6-4 win over Troy.

Troy, Ala.--Junior Ben Jones' two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth inning scored two as the Auburn Tigers came back from a 4-3 deficit to defeat the Troy Trojans 6-4 Tuesday night in front of a record crowd of 2,567 at Riddle-Pace Field.

Reliever Evan Crawford picked up the win, pitching two and one/third innings of scoreless relief. The win improves Auburn to 12-8 while Troy falls to 12-7 overall.

"I thought our kids played with a lot of energy tonight," Auburn coach Tommy Slater said. "That was really what I was the most excited about was the way we approached the game. They came out ready to play and stayed with it the whole ball game. I'm really proud of our ball club.

"Ben Jones once again comes in and gets two knocks," Slater added. "He had a big one to score two runs. Ben Jones is about perfect in every way. He makes straight A's in the classroom. He's the kind of guy if he showed up at your door to date your daughter you would say, 'Yes, please.' He's just a wonderful, wonderful kid. He's a class kid that loves Auburn."

Tied at four heading to the ninth, Auburn got things started with some small ball as Justin Hargett's bunt single led off the inning with a walk to Mike Bianucci putting the Tigers in business. Freshman Hunter Morris moved both runners up with a ground ball, but a strikeout of David Cunningham looked as if it would end the threat for Auburn. That's when Jones did his damage.

Quickly getting down 0-2, Jones fought back and fisted a single into right field that scored both runners to give Auburn the 6-4 lead. Crawford and Bryan Woodall slammed the door on the Trojans in the ninth to secure the win, but it was Jones that was the hero on this night.

"I got behind pretty quick and I was just trying to put the bat on the ball and put the ball in play," Jones told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "We had two runners on and I got lucky and it fell in there. It was an inside fastball. I hit a little blooper, but it got down. It all worked out good."

Getting the Tuesday night start, junior Luke Greinke had perhaps his best outing of the season. Giving up just one unearned run on four hits in six innings, Greinke gave the Tigers a chance to win in the midweek start and Slater said he gave Auburn exactly what it needed along with relief performances from Crawford and Woodall.

"Luke was outstanding and Evan was outstanding," Slater said. "Both those guys were really, really good. We bring Bryan in to get that last right-handed hitter out. He did a nice job there. We had really good pitching performances by all three of those guys."

Mike Bianucci slides into second with a double against Troy.

Auburn jumped out on the Trojans early thanks to a surprising long ball from the smallest of Tigers. With a strong wind blowing in from center field, Trent Mummey jumped on an Andrew Dickinson fastball and drove it over the wall in right field. It was Mummey's second home run of the season and the blast gave Auburn the 1-0 lead.

The Tigers threatened to do more in the first as walks to Hunter Morris and Kevin Patterson surrounded a Joseph Sanders single, but Brian Fletcher didn't deliver, leaving the advantage at just one.

The Trojans got the run back against Greinke in the bottom of the first as a leadoff walk to Bart Pettus on four pitches came back to haunt the junior as a single and an Auburn error combined to allow Pettus to score to tie the game. Unlike in past games, the Tigers responded on offense the next time up.

Thanks to some shaky Troy defense, the Tigers put two on the board in the second as a leadoff walk to Tony Caldwell put Auburn in business. Putting down a perfect bunt, Matt Hall was safe at first and an errant throw from Dickinson went into right field. The error allowed Caldwell to come all the way around to score. A throw from the right fielder sailed wide of the plate, allowing Hall to move to third. A Mummey ground ball to first base then scored Hall to put Auburn up 3-1.

Matt Hall turns a double play against the Trojans.

The Tigers had a golden chance to extend the lead in the fourth as Caldwell worked a 10-pitch walk to open the inning only to be thrown out at second following a Hall strikeout. That proved to be huge as Mummey and Hargett also earned walks from reliever Rob Brown to bring Bianucci to the plate.

That brought Troy reliever J.J. Whetsel on for the Trojans and he promptly struck out Bianucci to end the inning. Through six the Tigers had stranded six base runners, but still led 3-1.

Grant Dayton came on in relief of Greinke in the bottom of the sixth and almost undid all the good of the first five innings. Leading off the inning, Beau Brooks walked and that started a strange inning for Dayton as he struck out the next batter, walked the next and then struck out Dary Otwell for the second out of the inning. That brought Trevor Tyre to the plate and the third baseman almost gave the Trojans the lead as with two strikes he pulled one deep to left, but it was just foul. Dayton walked Tyre to load the bases, but he got Charley Williams on a slow roller back to the mound to end the threat and keep the Tigers up by two.

That all changed in the bottom of the seventh as Hurst came on in relief. An error by Hall to start the inning allowed Josh Storm to reach followed by a walk to Pettus and just like that the Trojans were in business.

Up next Bryan Miller put down a bunt that Hurst threw away to first for an error to load the bases with nobody out. Auburn's second balk of the night moved the runners up and cut the lead to one.

Catcher Beau Brooks' ground ball to second scored Pettus to tie the game and was the end of the night for Hurst as Crawford came on to get a fly ball to center field, but the go ahead run scored to put the Trojans up 4-3.

Auburn answered back in the top of the eighth to tie the game. Leading off the inning, defensive replacement Jones singled to left to start it off. In the game as the designated hitter, Greinke failed to get the bunt down and popped up for out one. A groundout by Ryan Jenkins followed, but it did move Jones to second. That proved to be big as Hall's second hit of the night, this one a double, scored Jones to tie the game at four. That set the stage for a dramatic ninth inning victory for the Tigers with Jones driving home the runs.

Auburn was led at the plate by Jones, Mummey, Sanders and Hall. They had eight of the 12 hits on the night for the Tigers. Troy was held to just four hits by four Auburn pitchers with no player having more than one.

The Tigers return to action Friday for a 6 p.m. start against the 18-0 Kentucky Wildcats. It's the first of a three-game series against the nationally ranked SEC East opponent.

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