Walk Off Homer Gives Rebels Win Over AU

Ole Miss hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning to defeat the Auburn Tigers 7-6 Friday night in Oxford.

Oxford, Miss.--Ole Miss freshman shortstop Tim Ferguson's three-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning completed a big comeback as the Rebels overcame a 6-2 deficit to defeat the Auburn Tigers 7-6 and put a dagger in the heart of Auburn's SEC Tournament hopes. With the loss Auburn drops to 26-24 overall and 10-15 in conference play while Ole Miss improves to 13-12 in the league and 32-19 overall.

The loss combined with wins by both LSU and Alabama drop Auburn three and half games out of the lead in the Western Division and two games out of eighth place in the race for Hoover. Coach Tommy Slater said that his team played well, but came up just short on a night when Ole Miss just made one more play.

"That's a tough one to swallow," Slater said. "We just need to bounce back tomorrow and come out ready to play. Grant (Dayton) was outstanding. He did a true super job pitching us deep into the ballgame. Woody (Bryan Woodall) has been a stud all year. He's our guy. We'll run him back out there when we need to."

The loss spoils another solid outing for Auburn freshman Grant Dayton. Going seven innings, Dayton allowed four runs on six hits in seven innings. Dominant for much of the 2008 season, closer Bryan Woodall had an uncharacteristic bad outing on Friday night as he allowed three runs on four hits in just one inning to get the loss. Slater said they got exactly what they wanted on the mound, but it didn't turn out like they hoped.

"It was a well-pitched game by Grant," Slater said. "Even in the eighth with the two lefties coming up we wanted him to try to get through those two guys. He got to 0-2 on Fuller Smith and it got hit out. Woody came in and gave up a single then got an out. That's the guy we want on the mound in the ninth inning with the ball in his hand. Woody is a stud. He'll bounce back for us."

At the plate Mike Bianucci had a three-run homer for his fourth bomb in four games while Hunter Morris added a home run and a RBI double, but Ole Miss came up with one homer too many for the Tigers.

Ole Miss got to Dayton early as the Rebels took the lead in the bottom of the first on the 14th home run by Cody Overbeck. Leading off Jordan Henry reached on an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Fuller Smith that Dayton fielded and threw to second but not in time. Dayton then got some fortune as he struck out Logan Power and catcher Ryan Jenkins threw out Henry trying to steal third. It proved to be big as Overbeck saw nine pitches before belting a Dayton pitch to left for a two-run homer to make it 2-0 Rebels.

After that Auburn began to fight back beginning in the third inning. Lynn had struck out six consecutive Tiger hitters until Justin Hargett reached on an error with one out in the inning. Following a groundout by Jenkins that moved Hargett to second, center fielder Trent Mummey ripped a double to score Hargett and make it 2-1 Ole Miss.

With Dayton cruising on the mound Auburn went back for more in the fifth off Lynn. With one out Hargett again got things going with a walk to bring Jenkins to the plate. A single from the junior catcher continued the rally and one out later Bianucci made the Rebels pay. Getting a pitch to drive from Lynn, Bianucci drilled it to deep center field for a three-run shot. It was his fourth homer in four games and put Auburn on top 4-2. Not to be outdone Morris followed with a solo shot and just like that the Tigers had a three-run lead.

Auburn wasn't done just yet against Lynn as the Tigers came back with a single run in the top of the seventh. With one out Mummey put down a bunt that Smith couldn't field at first to give the Tigers a runner. Following a fly ball out by Bianucci, Morris continued his hot hitting with a double to left field that scored Mummey to make it 6-2 Auburn, but Ole Miss wouldn't lay down without a fight.

Before the bottom of the second Auburn was forced to make a position change as shortstop Matt Hall had back spasms to send him to the bench. That meant Bianucci moved to third base with David Cunningham over to shortstop. It proved to be important as with one out Matt Smith reached on a Bianucci throwing error and later scored on Zach Miller double to cut the lead down to three. A solo homer by Fuller Smith in the top of the eighth made it 6-4 Tigers before Woodall came on to retire the Rebels and keep Auburn's advantage at two heading to the ninth.

In the ninth Matt Smith and Michael Guerrero both singled with nobody out against Woodall to put the Rebels in business with Miller coming to the plate. Woodall quickly got ahead 0-2 to Miller on two foul ball bunt attempts before freezing him for strike three for the first out. Woodall again got ahead 0-2 against Ferguson but this time he wouldn't be so lucky as the freshman hit a three-run homer on a 1-2 pitch to earn the walk-off win on Friday night.

Auburn will try to even the series on Saturday at 4 p.m. with sophomore Taylor Thompson (2-5, 6.57 ERA) on the mound against freshman Drew Pomeranz (4-1, 3.42) for Ole Miss.

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