Auburn rallies for 11-10 slugfest win

AUBURN, Ala. – Just one out away from a Sunday night trip back home to Clemson, the Tigers' weekend in Auburn was extended one more day when the Auburn Tigers won 11-10 at Plainsman Park Sunday night.

BOX SCORE: Auburn 11 Clemson 10

It was Creede Simpson's pinch hit, three-run homer off Tomas Cruz that gave Auburn the 11-9 lead in the ninth and set up Monday night's rubber match between the two Tigers.

"This one's over. We've just got to be ready to play tomorrow said Clemson coach Jack Leggett. "That's all there is to it."

Clemson scored once in the bottom half of the ninth but couldn't bring in the tying run, which stood 90-feet away.

Cruz, who pitched 2 1/3 innings, gave up three runs off four hits and walked two batters. With two outs and Leggett visiting the mound, reliever Kevin Brady trotted out of the bullpen, but was sent back as he crossed the leftfield line.

"That was just miscommunication. We were going to stick with Cruz all the time," Leggett said. "We just wanted to talk to him about the next guy, what to do with the next guy.

"He had been throwing some pretty good sliders. That one didn't do much."

Leggett defended his player and decision to leave him in the game.

"Tomas has been our guy at the end of the year. He's been pitching well for us. He's got experience and been in these types of games," he said.

Before Simpson's shot, Clemson second baseman Mike Freeman, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, nearly caught the third out of the ninth inning on a pop fly to shallow right-centerfield.

"That kind of stuff happens. I had a good look at it and it just hit off my glove," he said. "The thing about it—that stuff happens in baseball.

"It's a funny game."

It couldn't have been more apparent in the fifth inning when cries of War Eagle were replaced by cadence counts.

Auburn tacked on three runs off Jonathan Meyer in the fifth to go up 5-1 on a Brian Fletcher two-run homerun and Kevin Patterson's pinch hit RBI double.

Parker doubled the first Clemson run in during the third when left fielder Brian Feltcher lost a routine fly ball in the sun with Freeman scoring the ACC Tigers' first run.

With just three hits heading into the bottom half of the fifth, Clemson batted around in the inning as the first seven batters all reached base and were later driven in.

Brad Miller doubled, scoring Jeff Shaus and Kyle Parker before John Hinson followed with a solo homerun. Spencer Kieboom later doubled to drive in Richie Shaffer. Addison Johnson, who led off the inning with a single, singled again to bring in Kieboom and give Clemson an 8-5 lead.

"Our kids did a heck of a job scoring seven after they scored three," Leggett said. "It was one of those games that went back and forth."

Will Lamb was let off the hook for the decision after laboring through 3 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and two runs. Both of Lamb's runs were given up in the first.

"We could tell early he didn't have the same kind of stuff he had against Georgia Tech last weekend," Leggett said. "He kind of battled his way through three innings."

Cruz battled his way through his warm up pitches on the mound when called from the bullpen in relief of David Haselden, who pitched two innings, gave up three this and was credited with three runs.

After throwing a couple of warm up pitches to the backstop, Cruz loaded the bases when Casey McElroy was hit by a pitch. Cruz then walked Justin Bryant to bring the score to 8-7. Fradejas hit a chopper over Cruz's head to score Auburn's second and final run of the inning.

Clemson countered, again.

Miller doubled in the bottom of the seventh to score Boyd, giving Clemson a 9-8 lead.

"It was a tough loss for us, but at the same time, we've still got another opportunity tomorrow," Leggett said. "We'll be back and ready to play."

Clemson and Auburn will meet again Monday night at 7 p.m. (EDT) to determine who advances on to the Super Regional.

"I don't think it will be that difficult. Our guys have been there before. We were there last year when we lost the second game in the Regional," Freeman said. "We had to bounce back from that. Our guys are pretty loose guys. We play relaxed.

"We're going to be just as amped tomorrow to come out and play. I'm not worried about our guys being down after this."

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