May 13, 2014
AUBURN, Ala. - A bases-loaded walk to Jordan Ebert with 2 out in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Auburn baseball team a 6-5 win over UAB Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers (28-25) guaranteed themselves at least a .500 record for the eighth straight season and won for the 16th consecutive time against UAB (34-17). The win also snapped a 10-game UAB winning streak and gives Auburn much-needed momentum heading into this weekend’s final regular-season series against LSU.
“It’s good for our guys (to win a game like this),” Auburn head coach Sunny Golloway said. “Our seniors have had a tough go this year, they’ve shown a lot of character, they’ve been tough guys. I’ve never seen so many breaks go against (a team). I want them to keep fighting, and they fought hard tonight. I’m proud of this group. We’re not where we want to be, and we’re going to have to fight tooth and nail this weekend. We’re going to have Senior Day this weekend, and let’s hope some breaks go our way.”
With the score tied 5-5 since the sixth inning, Auburn scored its run in the ninth without a hit out of the infield. Blake Austin led off with a walk, giving way to pinch-runner J.J. Shaffer. After Damek Tomscha sacrificed him to second, UAB intentionally walked Dan Glevenyak to bring up Damon Haecker. He nearly ended it with a grounder to the left of the UAB shortstop, but a diving play held Haecker to an infield single and loaded the bases with two outs.
Ebert would look at four straight balls from UAB’s sixth pitcher of the night and second of the ninth inning, Turner Lee, allowing Shaffer to score from third and give the Tigers the victory.
“I didn’t have take on the first one, and I could just see myself hitting a gap shot to score the winning run,” Ebert said. “I really wanted to walk it off. I hadn’t done it since I’ve been here. But he gave me the take sign, then 2-0 he gave me a double take. But it was a really cool experience (to win the game on a walk-off) and I’m glad I got to do it. I don’t walk very much, so him giving me take probably helped me out there.”
The teams combined to use 12 pitchers on the night, with similar results. Auburn had 10 hits to UAB’s nine, Tiger pitchers struck out five to UAB’s three, and the teams combined for 13 walks.
Terrance Dedrick (2-3) got the win pitching a scoreless ninth, punctuated by two called strikeouts with UAB runners at second and third.
UAB jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, scoring the first without hitting the ball out of the infield. Two hit batters and two walks gave the Blazers their first run, and the second came across on an infield single with the bases still loaded.
Auburn answered with a run in the bottom of the second when Tomscha was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on a Glevenyak RBI single.
The Tigers’ bats came alive in the third inning as they scored three times to take a 4-2 lead. Gillikin led off with a double, moved to third as Grier reached on an error and scored on a squeeze bunt by Ryan Tella to make it 2-2. Two batters later, Tomscha ripped an RBI single to score Grier. Tomscha would then move to second on a wild pitch, then score when Robert reached on a single and both runners moved up another base on a throwing error.
UAB struck back for three runs in the fifth, tying the game on a two-RBI triple by Nathan Vincent and taking the lead as Vincent scored on an RBI single by Mitch Williams.
Auburn knotted the score again in the bottom of the sixth as Gillikin’s second double of the game brought home Ebert, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and then stole second.
Tomscha’s hit-by-pitch in the second inning was the 74th of the season for Auburn, setting a new school record. The team had previously been hit by 73 pitches in the 2010 season.
It was the longest nine-inning game for Auburn this year at 3 hours, 30 minutes. Auburn’s three longest nine-inning games have come against teams from Birmingham; two games against Samford went 3:18 and 3:19.
Michael O’Neal got the start for Auburn, pitching 2.2 innings and giving up two runs on three hits. Reid Carter (1.1 innings), Daniel Koger (0.1), Trey Wingenter (2.1) and Trey Cochran-Gill (1.1) also logged time on the mound for the Tigers.
The final three games of the 2014 regular season begin Thursday night at Plainsman Park as the LSU Tigers come to town. Games are set for 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.