Ryan Tella celebrates his walk-off RBI single to beat Mercer on March 9. (Contributed by Zach Bland)
After Auburn blew a three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning to Mercer, all eyes at Plainsman Park were on senior Ryan Tella stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.
Tella battled after going down 0-2, and his persistence paid off.
Auburn won 6-5 Sunday on a two-out RBI single from Tella in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“I was just looking to put something in play,” Tella said. “That’s all I needed to do. I didn’t need to hit a bomb, didn’t need to get a gap shot or anything. I just needed to put it in play and see what they could do with it, and I was able to find a hole.” Michael O’Neal got the win on the mound as the Tigers swept the series to go 9-6 on the season.
Just like in Saturday’s victory, Damek Tomscha hit another home run over the Green Monster in left field to make it 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
In the top of the fifth, Mercer took the lead with a couple of errors and unearned runs to take a 2-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the sixth, Auburn took control of the game again with three more runs to take the 4-2 lead.
Auburn tied the game up after a suicide squeeze bunt by Damon Haecker to score Jordan Ebert from third. Blake Austin then hit an RBI single to score Anfernee Grier.
With the bases loaded, pinch hitter Jackson Burgreen was hit by a pitch and brought in the fourth run for Auburn.
In the bottom of the eighth, Tella led off the inning with a triple, and Burgreen brought him home with a bunt to make it 5-2 Auburn.
Terrance Dedrick relieved O’Neal in the ninth in hopes of getting a save to end the game.
However, Mercer started the ninth with two doubles and a single to make it 5-4. With one out in the ninth Mercer tied things up with a squeeze play.
“The three runs at the back end, that’s the part that’s very worrisome,” said Auburn head coach Sunny Golloway. “I give Terrance a lot of credit for getting out of it with it tied, but we left some fastballs up that they could tattoo. So it’s very alarming for me.”
With the score tied, Auburn responded in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off RBI single by Tella to take the 6-5 win and the sweep of the series.