Tigers Fall 10-9 On Walk-Off HR In 11th

Auburn gave up four runs in the bottom of the 11th inning with the last three coming on a home run to lose 10-9 to South Alabama.

Mobile, Ala.--Sean Laird's three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning off Michael Hurst completed a night of comebacks for South Alabama as they overcame a 9-6 deficit with four runs in the frame to defeat Auburn 10-9 Tuesday night. It was a night of missed opportunities for the Tigers as they left 15 runners on base in the losing effort. The Tigers fall to 33-16 overall while the Jaguars improve to 30-20.

Despite a four-hit night for second baseman Wes Gilmer, in the lineup for Justin Hargett, Auburn couldn't put the Jaguars away after scoring four early runs. Pushed to extra innings, the Tigers scored three runs in the top of the 11th inning, but the bullpen couldn't make the lead stand up as pitchers Zach Blatt, Sean Ray and Hurst gave up four runs to end a frustrating night for Auburn.

"We're obviously disappointed in the loss," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "We let a lot of opportunities go by during the course of the game. Offensively we had a chance to score a couple of runs and we weren't able to do that. They battled back. Late in the ballgame we've got to be able to execute a few pitches and we didn't. They put some good swings on it. It's never easy whenever you play on the road. Give credit to South Alabama. They certainly deserved a comeback and they found a win today."

Offensively Auburn had a good night with 18 hits as Justin Fradejas, Casey McElroy and Ryan Jenkins all added three hits, but it was the lack of production that doomed the Tigers from start to finish. On the mound starter Dexter Price allowed four runs on seven hits in four innings with Slade Smith the only bright spot on the night, only allowing one inherited runner to score in two innings.

Following a scoreless first, Auburn got the offense rolling in the second inning as McElroy and Jenkins went deep back-to-back to put the Tigers up 2-0 with one out in the inning. A bunt single by Dan Gamache and a single by Gilmer put runners on the corners for the top of the order and Fradejas. Giving himself up, Fradejas put down a bunt that allowed Gamache to score and make it 3-0. An error on a ball hit by Trent Mummey then put runners on the corners again, this time for Brian Fletcher. His infield single scored Gilmer to make it a four-run advantage. Hunter Morris was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for Kevin Patterson, but the junior went down on strikes to leave the bases loaded.

After two scoreless innings, the Jaguars finally got to Price in the third. Three singles and a walk in the inning pushed two runs across for South Alabama to cut Auburn's lead in half at 4-2, but the Tigers would answer back with the long ball in the fourth and miss an opportunity to stretch the lead even more. Leading off, Gilmer continued his hot night with a solo shot to left field. A single by Fradejas kept the Tigers in business and following a Mummey flyout he moved to second on a passed ball. Following a Fletcher strikeout, Morris was walked intentionally to bring Patterson to the plate. Another passed ball moved the runners into scoring position, but a groundout ended the threat with Auburn in front 5-2.

A pair of singles by South Alabama to start the fifth brought Price's day to a close as Smith came on in relief of the sophomore. He immediately gave up a run scoring single to cut the lead back to just a pair of runs. A McElroy error at short loaded the bases with just one out. Smith got the next hitter on a sacrifice fly, which scored a run, but got a double play ball to end the inning with Auburn holding a slim 5-4 advantage.

The Tigers got a run back in the sixth thanks to the heads up play of Mummey. Following a sharp single to right field, the junior stole second and moved to third on a groundout by Fletcher to third base. Morris then did his job with a fly ball to right field that plated Mummey for a 6-4 Auburn lead.

Following a scoreless sixth from Smith, Cole Nelson came on to pitch and struck out five in two scoreless innings to take the game to the ninth inning. Trying to finish things off he allowed a single to open the inning and one out later Jake Overstreet came up with his second hit of the night and it was a big one. His home run to left field tied the game at six and left the Tigers in serious trouble with the momentum switching to the Jaguars.

A Fradejas single started the 10th inning off in good fashion for Auburn, but Mummey failed to move him to second base with a pop up on a bunt attempt to first base. Fletcher then got ahead 3-0 in the count and swung away only to pop up on the infield. A groundout by Morris ended the threat as the Tigers left their 13th runner on base to end the inning.

Blatt came in to pitch a scoreless 10th and the Tigers responded in the 11th with a one-out double by McElroy followed by a sharp single to left by Jenkins to put runners on the corners with one out and Gamache at the plate. South Alabama went to the bullpen for its sixth pitcher of the game, lefty Lance Baxter, to face Auburn's third baseman.

The starter for the Jaguars last Saturday, Baxter didn't fare well against the Tigers as Gamache singled to center field to score McElroy and give the Tigers the lead. Gilmer followed with his fourth hit of the night, a single, to score Jenkins to make it 8-6 Tigers. A walk to Fradejas loaded the bases for Mummey and his groundout pushed across the third run of the inning. A diving grab of a Fletcher fly ball brought the inning to a close, but the damage was done for the Tigers.

Now up 9-6 Auburn would have to hang on as the leadoff man Adam Heisler singled to open the bottom of the 11th. Following a strikeout, Overstreet singled into right field to bring the tying run to the plate. That would be all for Blatt as Sean Ray came in to try to finish the game off. The move didn't pay off as catcher Brent Tanner doubled to deep center field to score Heisler and leave the tying runs on base.

With Laird at the plate the Tigers brought on Michael Hurst to face the right-hander and it didn't turn out well as Laird hit his eighth home run of the season to left field to give South Alabama a 10-9 comeback win.

Auburn will return to action this weekend as the Tigers take on red hot Tennessee in a three-game series at Plainsman Park. Game times for the weekend are 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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