In game two Florida (22-12, 8-6) pounded Auburn pitching on the way to a 24-2 victory. The loss is the most lopsided in Auburn history with the 24 runs given up also a school record. Coach John Pawlowski said they had to take the good with the bad and come back on Sunday to try to win the series.
"I told these guys that you've got to keep it all in perspective," Pawlowski said. "When you come back and win a big ballgame the first game, the second game was a 3-2 game after five innings and the wheels came off. I told them we've got to keep it in perspective and come back tomorrow. We've got a chance to win the series tomorrow."
The story of the day was another comeback victory for Auburn behind five home runs at the plate. The five puts Auburn at 74 for the season, just 13 away from the school record. Hargett had the biggest of the day and said he was just looking for a pitch to drive and got exactly what he was hoping for.
"I was looking for a good pitch to hit," Hargett said. "I was sitting fastball. Two times in a row they had started me off with an off-speed pitch and then come back with two fastballs. The third pitch I was looking for a fastball and just happened to put a good swing on it. It happened to go out."
At the plate Sanders had a huge day for the Tigers. In game one he was 3-5 with two homers, a double, and three RBI. He added a hit and an RBI in game two to bring his team leading total to 48 RBI. He also leads the team with 16 home runs.
On the mound O'Neil and Hendrix came up big for the Tigers. With starter Grant Dayton out of the game after allowing five earned runs on nine hits and four and one/third innings, O'Neil gave the Tigers some quality innings. In four and two/thirds he allowed two earned runs on five hits. Hendrix did even better with two scoreless innings to earn his sixth win of the season, but it was O'Neil that set the tone for Auburn.
"I had a bumpy start, but got settled in and just went from there," O'Neil said. "I let my defense work behind me. I put up some zeros on the board and the offense came in and did the job."
Game one was two different games, literally. Trailing 4-1 when storms rolled through the Auburn area Friday night, things looked bleak as Dayton was struggling to get the Gators out. The only offense for Auburn was a solo home run by Sanders in the fourth to cut the Gators' lead to 3-1.
With one out in the fifth Matt den Dekker homered to left field off Dayton to extend the lead to three. Following another single, the severe weather siren halted play at that point. That's how things would stay until the game resumed on Saturday at 1 p.m. with O'Neill taking over for Dayton on the mound.
That move didn't pay dividends early as Avery Barnes singled to center field and Josh Adams doubled to left to score one. Another groundout scored Adams and just like that Florida led 6-1. The lead would get extended to six in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by the Gators, setting the stage for Auburn's fireworks at the end.
In the bottom of the sixth Sanders again went deep, this time a solo shot to left field. That was the catalyst that got the offense rolling as Hunter Morris singled and two outs later Brian Fletcher hit a long homer to left. The three-run inning cut the Florida lead in half at 7-4 with three at-bats remaining for the Tigers.
With O'Neil settling in on the mound, Auburn went back to work in the eighth as Ben Jones connected on a two-run shot to right field to make it a one-run game and get the crowd into the game. Down just one, the Tigers went to the bullpen for Bradley Hendrix and he pitched a scoreless ninth to set the stage for the dramatic finish.
In the bottom of the ninth Trent Mummey walked with two outs to give the Tigers some life. Florida brought on closer Billy Bullock to face the red hot Sanders, but it didn't matter as he hit a towering fly ball to the deepest part of Plainsman Park. The ball hit just short of the top of the wall in the canyon in left field. Mummey scored easily to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
That's how things would remain until the bottom of the 11th inning when Hargett delivered some walk-off magic once again. With one out Hargett stepped to the plate and took a 1-1 pitch over the K Corner in right field for his second game winner of the year. The blast set off a huge celebration as the Tigers defeated Florida at home for the first time since 2003.
Game two on Saturday was all Florida from start to finish despite Auburn taking a 1-0 lead in the third inning. McElroy and Hargett singled to start the inning and Mummey followed by reaching on catcher‘s interference to load the bases with nobody out. Sanders then ripped a single to left to score McElroy, but Hargett was thrown out at the plate. That‘s all Auburn would get though.
Auburn starting pitcher Jon Luke Jacobs had a rough outing, allowing five earned runs on six hits in five innings, but was unfortunately the best of the day for the Tigers in game two. Coming on in relief, Michael Hurst allowed four earned runs while Rus Harper gave up three and Zach Blatt five in two and two/thirds innings.
For the Gators at the plate Josh Adams had five hits in six at-bats and drove in six while Teddy Foster added three hits and three RBI. For the game Florida had 20 hits while Auburn had 10, but only managed to score two runs. McElroy led the Tigers with two hits.
This game was all about the Gators' offense. Two runs in the fourth and a single run in the fifth gave Florida a 3-1 lead, but Auburn got one back in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 3-2. That's as close as this one would get the rest of the way though as the Gators scored seven runs in the sixth and put up a nine-spot in the seventh to blow open a close game.
Auburn and Florida will play the rubber game of the three-game series on 1 p.m. Sunday. The Tigers will be looking for their first series win at home against the Gators since 2003. Junior Taylor Thompson will get the start for the Tigers.