In the first home SEC series of the season, it was a rollercoaster for the Tigers with two come-from-behind victories, taking the series win over Georgia.
It was a rough start for the Tigers on Thursday night, as Georgia jumped out to a 3-0 lead through the fourth inning, eventually holding a 6-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
The Bulldogs were able to get two outs, and with nobody on, Kason Howell stepped up to the plate. Howell notched the 60th double of his career, kickstarting a comeback that continued with a Cole Foster advancing after being hit by a pitch and BrysonWare delivering in the clutch again with a two-run RBI double to bring Auburn without one.
“That’s a guy that has just had an unbelievable year to this point,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said of Ware. “He didn’t try to do too much. He just took what was given and shot the ball down the right field line. That shows you maturity in an at-bat and a ton of believability for how locked-in he is.”
An error from the Bulldogs on a grounder from Justin Kirby led to Ware scoring, sending the game to extras.
It was a quiet 10th inning, and after shutting down UGA in the top of the 11th, Georgia’s bullpen ran out of gas with back-to-back singles from Ike Irish and Cooper McMurray. Chris Stanfield drew a walk and the bases were loaded with Carter Wright heading to the plate.
“I knew I just had to trust myself,” Wright said. “I was looking first-pitch fastball and he didn’t throw it. Once it got to 2-0, I was taking all the way.”
Wright kept calm and drew a four-pitch walk, securing Auburn’s first SEC win of the year.
Friday night was more of the same with Auburn trailing 3-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, and then the comeback started.
“Of course we wanted to do a whole lot more early. I don't know how long it went before we got a hit, three of four innings or so, but we stayed in it,” Thompson said. “That’s another way to define our ‘staying in the fight’ is if you’re drawing closer with these swings and approaches.”
Ike Irish was first on the board with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth, and he brought in some more scoring in the sixth when a sac fly brought Caden Green home, closing the deficit to one.
It was Justin Kirby that secured the lead with a three-run homer to give Auburn the lead, and the Tigers kept it for good.
“I got a little bit closer to what I was trying to execute throughout my first two at-bats but was still unsuccessful,” Kirby said. “Then in my third at-bat, I really made sure to execute my plan. I got a good pitch with two strikes that I knew I could handle. I stayed short, tried to be smooth and not hard, and good things happen.”
The Tigers held on to win Friday’s contest, 6-3.
The eventful series ended in disappointment for the Tigers, as the final comeback attempt fell way short. The Tigers trailed 5-1 early and 8-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth before the comeback started again.
Cooper McMurray got a pinch-hit double in the fifth, bringing Justin Kirby and Bobby Pierce home and cutting the deficit to four.
The sixth was led off by walks from Kason Howell and Cole Foster, and then Bryson Ware delivered once again with a monstrous three-run homer sent over the green monster in left field. This was the fourth straight inning in which Auburn scored, and it was Ware’s 11th homer of the year.
“Got down 8-2, I was so excited our guys make it 8-7,” Butch Thompson said. “All I can hope is we continue to grow from that, hopefully our pitching staff still sees that and grows out from the top, understanding how important it is.”
The Bulldogs, facing another blown lead, responded in the eighth with 16 runs, breaking the game open and run-ruling the Tigers 24-7 after the top of the eighth. During the inning, Georgia took advantage of five walks and two hit batters from the Tigers’ mound.
Auburn has to use seven different pitchers during the series finale, with Zach Crotchfelt taking the loss after giving up four earned runs in 2.1 innings.
“We have to keep growing. I wish we could have finished stronger in the ballgame,” Thompson said. “Thankful to win the series.”
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