Trailing by a run in the ninth inning and with two outs and nobody on, Auburn got a walk from Justin Bryant and a bloop single by Justin Fradejas that just bounced off the glove of Clemson second baseman Mike Freeman to bring Simpson to the plate against Clemson reliever Tomas Cruz. Falling behind 1-2, Simpson got a pitch to drive and didn't miss it as he launched a home run over the wall to give Auburn an 11-9 lead and send the crowd into hysterics.
Auburn players mobs Creede Simpson following his home run in the top of the ninth inning.
That continued into the ninth inning as Clemson didn't lay down. The purple Tigers got back-to-back singles off closer Austin Hubbard and a sacrifice bunt to put the tying run in scoring position with just one out. A wild pitch moved that run over to third base, but the senior refused to wilt as he got a ground ball to Hunter Morris at first base for out number two and a pop up to Justin Hargett at second base to seal the win and set up a huge showdown on Monday at 6 p.m. with the winner moving on to face the winner of Alabama-Georgia Tech.
"That was an amazing game when you start breaking it down and look at all the things that happened over the course of the game," Auburn's John Pawlowski said. "Our kids were up 5-1 and then Clemson scores seven runs in the fifth inning and has a ton of momentum in their corner. Somehow our guys kept battling and found a way to win."
Only seeing duty as a pinch-runner and a defensive replacement in the first game with Mummey still recovering from a strained hamstring, Simpson wasn't expected to do much more in game two until Pawlowski and the Auburn coaching staff saw something they didn't like in the top of the seventh inning.
"I'm not going to play somebody if I don't think they're 100 percent," Pawlowski said. "Trent has been doing a great job for us, but I thought he struggled getting down the line in his last at-bat."
That opened the door for Simpson and he delivered. Reminiscent of the David Ross home run in Tallahassee that kept the Tigers alive against Florida State, the Auburn native hammered the homer to left field and said once that went out he knew it was over.
"During the at-bat he started with some change-ups and got two strikes," Simpson said. "Then he went right at me with a two-seam fastball in. I got the barrel on it. Everyone was pumped. Austin Hubbard shut them down to help us win the ballgame. Everyone is ready to play tomorrow and I know someone is going to step up and help us win the game."
Auburn celebrates the home run with Brian Fletcher giving a fist pump for the ages.
Auburn got just the start it was hoping for in the first inning Sunday night as Mummey was hit by a pitch to get things going for the Tigers. Following a sacrifice bunt from Dan Gamache, Brian Fletcher doubled to left field to easily score Mummey from second to put Auburn on the board. Hunter Morris then ripped a single up the middle to make it 2-0 Auburn and give Smith something to work with.
With Auburn starter Slade Smith pitching well, Clemson finally got on the board in the bottom of the third inning with some help from Mother Nature. With two outs and nobody on, Clemson second baseman Mike Freeman reached on an error by Bryant at second. A Smith walk moved him into scoring position for right fielder Kyle Parker. Getting a fly ball to left field, Smith and Auburn got a bad break as Fletcher lost the ball in the sun. The double allowed Freeman to score and cut the lead to 2-1.
In the fourth a Tony Caldwell single was quickly erased on double play off the bat of Ryan Jenkins. Auburn didn't go away as a Casey McElroy single to left field and a Bryant walk brought Lamb's day to a close on the mound. Reliever Jonathan Meyer came on to face Fradejas with a pair of runners on base and delivered for Clemson with the strikeout to end the inning.
Following a scoreless bottom of the fourth, Auburn went back to work in the top of the fifth and Mummey was again at the center of things. Leading off, the junior ripped a double into the left-center gap for his second two-bagger of the game. After a Gamache groundout moved Mummey to third, Fletcher delivered his 22nd homer of the season to center field. The blast put Auburn up 4-1, but the inning wasn't done.
With his second single of the game, Morris reached first base and following a Tony Caldwell strikeout and with Ryan Jenkins due up Auburn decided to take a gamble. With a right-hander on the mound Auburn sent junior Kevin Patterson to the plate. The gamble paid off as Patterson roped a double into left-center to score Morris and give Auburn a 5-1 advantage going to the bottom of the fifth.
Things went away quickly for Smith and Auburn though as the top of the order for Clemson peppered the freshman with three consecutive singles to score a run. Following a groundout another Clemson single scored two more runs to make it a 5-4 game and end Smith's day. Bringing on Hubbard to try to slam the door, Auburn instead opened the floodgates as Hinson hit the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for a two-run shot to make it 6-5 Clemson. With two outs Spencer Kieboom's double added another run for the Tigers off Hubbard to make it a two-run lead just like that. Another single by Johnson, his second of the inning, scored Kieboom for an 8-5 Clemson lead. Things almost went from bad to worse for Hubbard as Freeman drove one to the wall in right field that Fradejas just managed to run down to end the inning.
Still the damage was done as Clemson sent 11 batters to the plate scoring seven runs on seven hits. Once leading by four, Auburn now found itself down by three heading to the top of the sixth. The lead was trimmed by one in the top of the sixth as Fradejas homered to left field for his third of the season and second in two days. The shot over the wall in left field cut the Clemson lead back to 8-6 and kept Auburn in the hunt.
In the top of the seventh a one-out single from Morris brought Caldwell to the plate looking to drive the ball. Getting something to handle, Caldwell pulled it deep to left field for what appeared to be extra bases. Clemson's Schaus had other ideas though as he made a spinning grab at the wall to rob Caldwell of extra bases. Auburn wasn't done yet though as Patterson doubled to right field to put runners on second and third.
Cruz came in for Clemson and immediately hit McElroy to load the bases with Bryant coming to the plate. One of Auburn's most disciplined hitters, Bryant worked a walk to score a run and drive the Plainsman Park crowd into a frenzy. Fradejas followed with an infield single that just got over the head of Cruz on the mound. Patterson scored on the play to tie the game at eight and bring Mummey to the plate. Swinging at the first pitch, Mummey hit a slow roller down the third base line. Still struggling with a hamstring injury, Mummey was thrown out by a step at first to end the inning.
Clemson answered back in the bottom of the seventh as a leadoff walk by Hubbard proved to be fatal. Following a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, a Freeman double to right field scored Wilson Boyd to put Clemson back in front 9-8. Auburn threatened in the top of the eighth as Fletcher reached on an infield single with one out, but a Morris pop up and a Caldwell strikeout kept Auburn down by one and set the stage for Simpson's heroics.
Fletcher, Morris and Fradejas all had three hits for the Tigers with Fletcher adding three RBI. Mummey added a pair of doubles while Patterson came of the bench to record a pair of hits. On the mound Smith allowed four earned runs on seven hits in four and one/third innings while Hubbard picked up the win, allowing three earned runs on eight hits in four and two/thirds innings.
For Clemson Freeman and Hinson both had three hits each while Johnson and Parker had two hits. Cruz took the loss, allowing three earned runs on four hits in two and one/thirds innings.
Auburn and Clemson will square off at 6 p.m. at Plainsman Park. Neither team has announced a starting pitcher. There will be 200 terrace tickets for $10 and 200 student tickets for $5 that will go on sale at 8 a.m. Monday at the coliseum ticket office. Reserve seats are sold out.