Facing its toughest test thus far on the season, the ability to pitch out of difficult situations and more late-inning heroics at the plate gave No. 25 Auburn a 7-6 victory over No. 21 South Alabama on Tuesday night in Mobile, Alabama
After losing an early three-run lead, the Tigers sparked an eighth-inning rally that featured a three-run go-ahead home run by leadoff hitter Luke Jarvis.
The senior crushed a first-pitch curveball over the wall in left field to give Auburn a 7-4 lead.
“I was guessing curveball -- I just about never do that -- and he happened to put one right where I could hit it,” Jarvis said. “I put a good swing on it and thank goodness it carried out. That was an awesome win tonight.”
The cushion given by Jarvis’ first home run of the season did not last long, as the Jaguars came back with two quick runs to begin the bottom of the frame.
Like last Tuesday in a one-run win over Georgia State, the Tigers turned to freshman phenom Cody Greenhill get crucial outs late in the game.
Although Greenhill surrendered a two-run double on the first pitch he threw, he followed by working around the most dangerous part of the Jaguars’ order without allowing any further damage. The reliever preserved Auburn’s one-run lead by stranding two men on base and came back in for the ninth inning to earn the first save of his career.
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“(Greenhill’s) first pitch basically turns it back into a one-run game but he does know how to compete, how to battle,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “Our team does have a good feeling, especially late.”
The Tigers’ pitching staff was able to work its way out of trouble in almost every inning.
Auburn starter Andrew Mitchell managed to throw four scoreless innings despite allowing a runner to reach second base in all of them. The left-hander has yet to allow an earned run in nine and one-third innings to begin the season.
The Tigers win on Tuesday ended a three-game losing skid to South Alabama.
Auburn (9-0) will take the field again on Friday with Casey Mize on the mound against BYU (5-3) at 5 p.m. CT from Plainsman Park.
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