Auburn faced a 6-2 deficit heading into the bottom of the fourth, but the Tigers rallied, scoring two runs in the fourth and six runs in the fifth en route to defeating Florida 10-8 in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader at Plainsman Park.
“I think there is real courage with this ballclub,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “This season has been different, things have been ripped out of your heart late, and there’s all these reasons to lay down, but our guys won’t do that. They’re showing a lot of courage, and I respect that as a head coach.”
Auburn started the game strong with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first by Tyler Miller and two shutout innings from starter Richard Fitts. Fitts struggled in the third, allowing four runs and allowing Florida to go up 4-2.
The Gators extended their lead to 6-2 in the third inning, with both runs unearned. Auburn responded in the fourth with two runs as Ryan Bliss hit an RBI single, then Auburn scored off of a Florida error.
The Tigers' bats did most of their damage in the fifth inning, starting with a solo shot from Steven Williams, then two batters later, Cam Hill hit a two-run home run to give Auburn a lead that they would never relinquish.
Auburn added three more runs in the inning, all off RBI singles from Bliss, Miller and Rankin Woley.
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“Our older guys gave him [Hill] the guy of the game,” Thompson said. “He’s mature beyond his years.”
Joseph Gonzalez came in to pitch the fifth and pitched 2.2 innings. He turned in two scoreless innings and earned the win. Gonzalez struggled in the final frame, as he allowed two runs, but Will Morrison came in with two outs in the seventh and sealed the win for the Tigers.
The second game of the series did not have a similar outcome as the first, as Auburn fell 6-3.
The Tigers were able to strike first as they scored a run in the first off of a Brody Miller RBI groundout. The Tigers threatened to score more in the first as they had runners on second and third with one out, but they weren’t able to capitalize.
Peyton Glavine made his first SEC start for the Tigers. Glavine gave up no runs and only one hit through the first three innings but left the game after giving up two home runs in the fourth inning.
“With Peyton, I think it’s a function of everybody seeing them one time through and getting that second at-bat,” Thompson said. “He looked so good to me, you feel like he was gonna throw five or six [innings] after he threw the first couple innings.”
Auburn tied things up after scoring two runs off a couple of RBI groundouts to make it a 3-3 game.
Mason Barnett came in for Glavine and tossed two innings. Barnett allowed no earned runs but had a throwing error at home that allowed Florida to score the go-ahead run.
Florida added two more runs off of Cody Greenhill, who has had a lingering injury, in the top of the seventh to push the score to 6-3 before Carson Swilling came in and ended the Florida threat.
Thompson said that Greenhill will be day-to-day moving forward.
Auburn threatened to tie it up as they had runners on first and second with no one out, but they only scored one run in the inning and lost 6-4.
“I really felt we had a chance there late,” Thompson said. “We got the first two guys on, but really couldn’t get anything going after that. And I thought we were in position if we could’ve gotten one or two more guys to the plate.”
Auburn will have a few days off before heading to Athens, Georgia, to start a three-game series against Georgia.
“You’re not here to just grow and develop,” Thompson said. “We’re here to win, we’re here to win series and ball games, and that’s my biggest narrative going forward.”
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