Little Known Simpson Hits the Big Shot

News and notes from Auburn's NCAA Baseball Regional victories over Southern Miss and Clemson are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Clemson coach Jack Leggett admitted he didn't have much of a scouting report on Auburn's Creede Simpson when the replacement center fielder hit the game-winning three-run homer for the AU Tigers on Sunday night.

Simpson's bomb over the left field wall off of Clemson closer Tomas Cruz provided the winning margin in Auburn's 11-10 victory that set up a 6 p.m. Monday game vs. Clemson with the winner advancing to NCAA Tournament Super Regional play.

"I didn't know much about him," Leggett said of the first-year Tiger, a juco transfer who was a star player at Auburn High School. "He came in the game late. As things would have it, he came up with a big hit.

"You have to give him credit for that," Leggett added. "They threw him in the game in the seventh inning and he came up with the big hit. It's unfortunate for us, it's fortunate for them."

Commenting on the big homer, Simpson said, "Once I saw it in the air I knew it had a good chance to go over," he said. "It was an awesome feeling. I was coming around third and our third base coach (Link Jarrett) was giving me crazy looks. Then I got to home plate and everyone was waiting on me to celebrate. It was a great feeling."

Simpson, who has been a reserve since Trent Mummey returned from an injury, hit the home run with two outs and two strikes. If he hadn't hit safely, Auburn's season would have been finished. In his first at-bat at the SEC Tournament, Simpson also hit a home run.

In other news and notes:

*Hunter Morris set Auburn's single-season record for home runs with a grand slam shot over the K Corner in the top of the fourth inning vs. Southern Miss that put Auburn up 9-6 in the first game on Sunday. His 23 surpassed the total of 22 set by Todd Faulkner in 2000.

*In the second game on Sunday, Brian Fletcher hit his 22nd home run of the season vs. Clemson.

*With a single in the third inning of the first game, Morris picked up his 100th base hit of the season to become the ninth player in Auburn history to have that many.

*Simpson's game-winning home run vs. Clemson was on a slider Cruz. "It was up in the zone, a hittable pitch" said Coach Leggett. "He hung it in the wrong spot."

*The victory was the first win ever for Auburn coach John Pawlowski vs. Clemson, his alma mater. He is now 1-15 vs. the ACC team.

*Auburn was 0-16 this season when trailing after eight innings prior to Sunday night's game.

*Tickets for Monday's game go on sale at 8 a.m. on Monday at the coliseum ticket. Only 200 Tiger Terrace tickets ($10) and 200 student tickets ($5) remain.

*Auburn was designated the visiting team for the Southern Miss and wore orange jerseys with gray pants while Southern Miss wore white. Auburn was also the visiting team vs. Clemson and wore orange jerseys with gray pants while Clemson wore all white. The Tigers will be the home team for Monday night's 6 p.m. game.

*Auburn improved its all-time record to 4-0 vs. Southern Miss. It was the first time the two teams played in an NCAA Tournament game.

*Trent Mummey's five RBI vs. Southern Miss tied the Auburn record for runs batted in for a postseason game.

*Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry was impressed with Auburn's hitting. "I thought we ran into a tough club today in Auburn, a great offensive club,"?he said. "I was concerned about our pitching depth and it showed. They were too strong to try and counter early, but I was very proud of our young men and how they showed character coming out in the first inning and spotting us five runs, and the way new continued to play even to the last out. We never gave up. That is a credit to our program and our players."

*Southern Miss second baseman Taylor Walker had praise for the relief work of Auburn pitcher Bradley Hendrix. "He did a good job of keeping us off balance," walker said. "He was spotting up well with two pitches to righties and three to lefties. He was throwing his fast ball and slider on the spot. He also did a good job of keeping the ball down."

*Auburn improved its record in NCAA play vs. Clemson to 5-4 and AU is 21-27 all-time vs. Clemson.

Austin Hubbard, Auburn's closer, threw 76 pitches in in relief of starter Slade Smith, who threw 78 pitches.

*Auburn football wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor, known for his motivational speaking skills, talked to the Tigers before their victory over Clemson. Auburn coach John Pawlowski said the football coach did a great job.

*Clemson second baseman Mike Freeman said the heart-breaking loss won't be a problem to overcome on Monday. "It was a battle all nine innings, it just didn't go our way,"?he said. "Our guys will be ready. We have done it before. We advanced on a Monday last year. We know what its all about."

*Auburn is playing host to a NCAA Regional for the fourth time. The first was in 1978, the second in 1999 and third in 2003. The only one of those the Tigers won was 1999. The Tigers are 39-28 all-time in NCAA regional play after going 3-1 this weekend.

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