With the victory Auburn improves to 14-5 while the Bucs fall to 8-9 overall.
With the baseball game tied in the bottom of the 13th inning and looking for some life on offense, the Tigers got some help from Charleston Southern pitcher Tyler Thornburg and took full advantage of it.
Leading off, Trent Mummey singled to right field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Joseph Sanders. An intentional walk to Ben Jones put Mummey into scoring position with nobody out for the heart of the Auburn order.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, that heart of the order had done very little to that point on Tuesday as Hunter Morris was 1-6 before being replaced by a pinch-runner in the 12th inning. That meant Dan Gamache had the chance to be the hero. Watching closely at the plate, the freshman from Rhode Island worked a walk to load the bases for Fletcher. Taking a breaking ball in the back, Fletcher was hit by a pitch to force Mummey across with the game winner.
While it was far from pretty, Coach John Pawlowski said the win was big for his team because it showed the Tigers are learning how to win without playing their best.
"You've got to stay mentally focused and I thought, overall, our team did that today," Pawlowski said. "It's a good win for us. You go extra innings and have to come back. It's another good sign that this team is very capable of winning some close ball games like tonight.
"We didn't play very good baseball today," he added. "We made a lot of mistakes. We did several things what I would consider uncharacteristic of this team so far, but to the kids credit they overcame some mistakes we made and found a way to win."
On the mound sophomore Bradley Hendrix earned the victory in relief. He allowed one run on two hits in two innings.
Freshman Dexter Price started and allowed three runs on nine hits in four and one/third innings. Zach Blatt came on and gave up just one run on three hits in three and two/thirds while Austin Hubbard allowed a run on four hits in three innings and struck out nine.
As a group the foursome struck out 21 hitters, four away from the team record for a game. Hendrix said for him it was all about throwing strikes and helping the team find a way to win.
"I just wanted to let my defense work and take care of it," Hendrix said. "It feels good because it shows we've matured a lot over the last couple of months and that we can find a way to get it done even if nothing is going our way. We're going in the right direction right now."
Auburn scored first in Tuesday night's contest as a two-out single by Tony Caldwell in the bottom of the second inning started a rally for the Tigers. Another single, this one by Casey McElroy, got Caldwell to second and he scored on the third two-out hit of the inning as Justin Hargett scored him to put Auburn up 1-0.
The Buccaneers came back with a run in the third and two in the fourth before the Tigers answered back as a Caldwell solo homer off the scoreboard in left field made it 3-2 Charleston Southern. It was his third of the season and his second hit of the game.
Auburn tied the game in the fifth after Blatt came on to close out the top of the inning. With one out Jones doubled to left and later scored on a two-out triple by Fletcher. With the game now 3-3, Blatt began to show his stuff on the mound.
Pitching scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, the freshman gave his offense a chance to open a lead, which it did in the sixth. Again the catalyst, Caldwell walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by McElroy. Another RBI single by Hargett gave the Tigers the lead back at 4-3, but they weren't done. Moving to second on the throw, Hargett would score moments later on a Trent Mummey single to put Auburn ahead 5-3.
Giving up a single run in the eighth on a solo homer, Blatt turned things over to Hubbard in the ninth, but a leadoff single and a walk led to the tying run on a single up the middle by Thornburg.
In the 10th the Bucs got a leadoff double and a wild pitch to open the frame, but Hubbard came back to strike out the side and keep the game tied at five.
The visitors took the lead in the 12th with a single run before Auburn again answered in the bottom of the inning. Back to back singles by Jones and Morris to start the inning and a Fletcher walk loaded the bases with nobody out for the Tigers, but they could manage only one run on a walk as Thornburg came on to slam the door on the rally and leave the game tied at six. That set the stage for Auburn's win in 13 innings.
At the plate Hargett had three hits for the Tigers while Mummey was 2-7 and Caldwell 2-3 with a home run. Jones was 1-3, walked four times, and scored two runs. Thornburg led Charleston Southern with four hits along with Kory Morian's four hits and a home run.
Auburn and Charleston Southern play the second of a two-game set at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Plainsman Park with junior Taylor Thompson expected to get the start for the Tigers.