April 11, 2014
Keegan Thompson earned his first Auburn save Friday night in Tuscaloosa (Zach Bland photo)
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - It was a different kind of challenge for freshman Auburn pitcher Keegan Thompson. And he answered it in the sound and fury of Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Friday night, pitching two shutout innings in relief as the Tigers beat No. 10 Alabama 2-1.
Thompson, Auburn's Saturday starter since the first series of the season, got the call out of the bullpen in the eighth inning. Auburn led 2-1 and a runner was on second with nobody out when Thompson replaced starter Dillon Ortman.
"My adrenaline was pumping coming in," Thompson said. "I just wanted to go out there and get it done for Dillon. He pitched his a-- off."
Ortman gave up five hits and Alabama's only run in five-plus innings. Thompson struck out five and gave up one hit in the final two innings. Auburn managed four hits off Alabama ace Spencer Turnbull.
Alabama pitchers hit Auburn batters five times. Dan Glevenyak was hit four times, an Auburn record.
Though it was Auburn's first Friday night win at Alabama since 2008 and though it broke a three-game SEC losing streak, first-year Auburn coach Sunny Golloway said he was "irritated" that the Tigers left the bases loaded three times, and he said he let his players know it.
“We’re just a much better team that what we played tonight,” Golloway said. “I know it’s a tough environment and everything. Keegan did a terrific job and we defended very well. We pitched it really well. We’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll try to get the series.”
Golloway had high praise for Ortman.
"He was terrific," Golloway said. "As far as consistency, we might have the best Friday night guy in the league. He doesn't try to do too much. He pounds the zone. He pitches with courage."
Auburn got its runs on a bases-loaded infield single by Jordan Ebert and a sacrifice fly by Connor Short. Alabama answered with a run in the fourth, and Ortman escaped by inducing a double play to end the inning.
After getting the call in the eighth inning, Thompson struck out Mike White, got Ben Moore to ground out and struck out Kyle Overstreet to preserve Auburn's lead.
He struck out the first three hitters he faced in the bottom of the ninth, but on the third one, the ball got past catcher Blake Austin for a wild pitch and ???? Vincent reached first. Pinch hitter Will Haynie singled to left, but Hunter Webb flied out to end it.
Thompson was scheduled to start Saturday night's game and Michael O'Neal was scheduled to go Sunday. Golloway wouldn't say who will now start Saturday, but it is likely to be O'Neal.
Ortman got the win and improved to 6-2. Turnbull took the loss.