The win kept the team’s SEC Championship hopes alive, at least until tomorrow, when it will face Vanderbilt at 4:30 p.m.
“It has been the theme all year; every game, every situation, every pitch, and here we are again. Ninth inning, anything can happen," head coach John Pawlowski said. "We were very fortunate today to come out with a win. I am really proud of our team. We responded well today."
Senior pitcher Justin Bryant ensured the win for the Tigers with a line-out from Georgia’s Colby May with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Bryant’s 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief marks his seventh save of the season.
There were two on and two out in the eighth when Bryant entered the game. Four pitches later, Georgia’s Curt Powell struck out to end the inning and protect the one-run lead.
The right-hander’s pitching wasn’t his only contribution to the win. With two outs in the third, Bryant homered to left field, pushing Auburn’s lead to 3-0.
“Justin Bryant is one of the truest competitors we have on the team. He swung the bat and got on the mound. I am really pleased with our club tonight,” Pawlowski said.
Despite leading the entire game, the Bulldogs battled back to make it a one run game in the ninth. The inning started with a ground out by Levi Hyams, then the trouble began. Kyle Farmer tripled to right-center, placing the tying run on third. Brett DeLoach connected on the third pitch, but sophomore Dan Glevenyak made the play at shortstop to make it a one out game. Following a pair of walks, May lined out to Bobby Andrews in left, ending the game and Georgia’s tournament.
Jay Gonzalez led off the first with a walk then stole second. Three batters later, Patrick Savage hit an RBI single up the middle to put the Tigers up 1-0.
Gonzalez started the third with a single to left field and stole second before advancing to third on a throwing error by catcher Joey Delmonico. A Creede Simpson RBI groundout to short followed, pushing the lead to two before Bryant struck a two-out solo home run to left.
In reference to his home run, Bryant said, “It’s the SEC Tournament and your focus is turned up a little bit. I just happened to get a couple of pitches up that I could handle."
Georgia’s two runs came in the eighth off the glove of reliever Derek Varnadore. Hunter Cole led off the inning with a walk, followed by a Peter Verdin single. Pinch hitter Nelson Ward and Conor Welton hit back-to-back singles to drive in Cole and Verdin, tying the game 2-2.
Auburn’s lead-off man got on base in four out of the first five innings, stealing second each time. The team ended the night with five steals, one away from the SEC Tournament single-game record.
Starter Daniel Koger (4-5) got the win for the Tigers, allowing seven hits and no runs in 5 1/3 innings.
“Daniel Koger, to go out in that environment as a freshman, I thought he did a tremendous job,” Pawlowski said.
Georgia’s Michael Palazzone (2-7) collected the loss, surrendering all three of Auburn’s runs in 4 1/3 innings on six hits and three walks.
Auburn will face South Carolina Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Regions Park.