Fletcher's Walk-Off Gives Tigers The Win

Brian Fletcher's home run in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Auburn a dramatic 6-5 win over Boston College on the first night of the Auburn Classic at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--There's a first time for everything and Friday night that was the case for Auburn junior left fielder Brian Fletcher as he delivered the first walk-off home run of his career for the Tigers when his one-out, two-strike, solo home run gave AU a 6-5 win in 10 innings over Boston College. It was the second homer of the game for Fletcher as Auburn improved to 3-1 with the victory while the Eagles fall to 2-2.

"It's one of those things I had in the back of my mind," Fletcher said. "I've had a couple of opportunities, not just this year but last year and the year before. It has always been a dream for me to be that guy. I don't know how to feel right now. I'm just really excited to play tomorrow."

On a cold night that got even colder as the game went into extra innings, Auburn was looking to end things quickly when they came to bat in the bottom of the 10th. Following a strong 10th by closer Austin Hubbard, the Tigers had some momentum with the meat of the Auburn order coming to the plate.

Just 1-4 on the night, Hunter Morris led off the 10th, but popped up to short for the first out of the inning. That brought Fletcher to the plate against big Chris Kowalski from Boston College. Working the count to 2-2, Fletcher got a pitch to drive and sent it over the wall in right-center for his 30th career home run to tie Jamie Kersh for ninth place in Auburn history. Fletcher said he was just looking to make something happen and got a pitch he could handle.

"I didn't really want to do too much," Fletcher said. "It's one of those situations where you want to be the hero. Talking to Link (Jarrett) down the line he's just trying to calm me down. I went 2-2, but thankfully he left a change-up up in the zone that I could handle and I drove the ball out."

The blast gave Auburn a big win after the Tigers blew a 5-2 lead after five innings. Still it was a solid night all the way around for coach John Pawlowski's club as the Tigers had 13 hits and didn't commit an error for the first time this season. On the mound Jon Luke Jacobs allowed two runs on six hits in four and one/third innings in the start to get a no-decision.

It was in the bullpen where Auburn did its damage on the mound as relievers Sean Ray, Bradley Hendrix, Cory Luckie, Zach Blatt and Hubbard combined to allow just five hits and three runs in five and two/thirds innings. Pawlowski said getting the win was huge for his team.

"It was an exciting win for us today," Pawlowski said. "A clean baseball game, both teams played outstanding baseball. We were very fortunate. Fletch came up with the big two-strike home run. We did some good things offensively. We bunted well. I thought we moved some runners over.

"On the pitching side I was pleased with the guys we brought in," he added. "They came in for big situations. Sean Ray had a couple of big strikeouts. Cory Luckie, Austin Hubbard, Bradley Hendrix, Zach Blatt, I thought our relievers came in and they all did a good job. They pitched well and gave us a chance to win."

Things didn't start well for Jacobs and the Tigers on a cold Friday night at Plainsman Park as the Eagles jumped on the sophomore early. Center fielder Robbie Anston singled on the first pitch he saw from Jacobs and another single by Matt Hamlet put Boston College in business. Mickey Wiswall then ripped a double that scored both runners, but Jacobs would rebound to keep the damage minimal and trail just 2-0 after a half-inning.

Auburn would answer back in the bottom of the first as Justin Hargett led off by pushing a double down the left field line. Moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Crede Simpson, Hargett cruised home thanks to a blast from junior Morris. Driving a pitch deep to right-center, Morris showed off his newfound speed by legging out a triple. Unfortunately that's how things would remain as the Tigers failed to get him in, leaving the deficit at one.

One swing of the bat was all it took to put Auburn in front in the third as Simpson doubled to right-center with one out and nobody on to set the stage. Following a Morris pop up, Fletcher did his thing as he yanked a pitch over the monster in left field for a two-run shot. His second homer of the year put Auburn in front 3-2 heading to the fourth.

The Tigers added to the lead in the fourth as Tony Caldwell walked to lead off and Bryant singled for the second time on the night, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Following a Ryan Jenkins sacrifice bunt, Wes Gilmer scored Caldwell with a fly ball to right field. Hargett then came through with a perfect bunt pushed up the first base line. He beat the throw to first for a single and Bryant scored in the process to make it 5-2 Auburn.

Boston College chipped into the lead in the sixth as Ray gave up a single and later a walk to give the Eagles some life. With two outs Wiswall doubled to left-center to score two and cut Auburn's lead down to one. That lead would disappear altogether in the seventh. After coming in to finish off the sixth, Hendrix gave up a solo shot to John Spatola to start the inning. The blast tied the game at five with Auburn looking to pull back in front in the bottom of the seventh.

Auburn would have a golden opportunity to do just that as Hargett led off the inning with a double to right-center and moved to third on a bunt by Simpson. With Morris at the plate things looked good, but his ground ball to first left Hargett at third base. That's how the inning would end as Fletcher's liner to center field was caught by Anston to end the threat.

The Fayetteville, Ga., native would get the last laugh on this night though as his homer brought the house down on a successful opening day of the Auburn Classic.

At the plate Fletcher, Hargett and Bryant all had three hits while Caldwell added two. On the injury front Blatt rolled his ankle over coming off the mound and was icing it following the game. Pawlowski said they'll know more on him Saturday.

In the first game of the day Missouri defeated Florida Atlantic 4-2 at Plainsman Park.

Saturday Boston College will face the Owls at 11 a.m. with Auburn and Missouri to follow at 3 p.m. In between games Auburn will honor Bo Jackson, Gregg Olson, Frank Thomas and Tim Hudson by putting them on the Wall of Fame at Plainsman Park in a ceremony. That is expected to begin at around 2:20 p.m.


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