Saturday night’s game was a heartbreaker for Auburn.
Auburn had the lead for the first time in its Game 2 against Alabama going into the ninth after the Tigers scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Alabama answered those four runs with two of its own in the top of the ninth, which was enough to get the Tide the 7-6 win.
After Alabama had consistently been adding runs on the board to take a 5-2 lead going into the seventh, Auburn (28-18, 11-12 SEC) got a spark in the later innings of the game. The Tigers loaded the bases in the seventh but did not score a run. They got a redo of the come back opportunity in the eighth.
Jeremy Randolph came in to pitch the eighth inning for Alabama, and Auburn was able to take advantage of his struggle to throw strikes. Conor Davis led off the inning with a walk, then after a pop-out from Matt Scheffler, Rankin Woley was hit by a pitch to put two runners on with no outs. Steven Williams walked next to load the bases, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate.
Will Holland drove home the first two runs on a single to right center, bringing Auburn within one run of tying the game. Judd Ward doubled to score Williams and Holland to get the Tigers the 6-5 lead.
“Will Holland had a good night and wound up tying that ballgame,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “Then Judd Ward getting the big hit. We got everything we wanted because we hung in there.”
Holland went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs on the night. Ward also had two RBIs and had two hits in the game.
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Alabama (27-20, 6-17 SEC) fought back, though. Auburn brought in Cody Greenhill to close out the game, his second appearance in two days. Greenhill has struggled throughout the season when making back-to-back appearances, and that was what happened Saturday night.
“I think that’s pretty much been the entire season,” Thompson said. “They put the bat on the ball. He’s been hit more the second outings of a weekend, if he comes in and pitches a second time. I don’t know what the challenge is. It’s less swing and miss and more contact for sure.”
While Greenhill was not lights out on the mound, the Auburn defense also faltered.
Morgan McCullough led off the top of the ninth with a single. Tyler Gentry hit a ground ball to Holland, who flipped it to Ryan Bliss to start off a possible 6-4-3 double play. Bliss got the out at second and tossed it to Ed Johnson, who came in to play first for Woley after the hit by pitch in the bottom of the eighth. Johnson dropped the ball at first, allowing Gentry to reach on an error.
A ground out moved Gentry to second, and a single brought him home to tie the game at 6-6. Greenhill issued a walk, and the Tide hit another single to take the 7-6 lead. Greenhill, who leads the team with nine saves, earned the loss, putting him at 1-2 on the year.
“We got Cody Greenhill on the mound with a one-run lead and wasn’t able to hold it,” Thompson said. “I just thought we were trying hard and battled all the way back. It’s kind of disappointing of course not to be able to finish it off there in the ninth inning.”
The series-deciding Game 3 will start at 3 p.m. CST on Sunday.
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