After taking a 3-1 lead in the third inning, Texas A&M was held scoreless until the ninth as Auburn rallied to defeat the Aggies 5-4 Friday at Plainsman Park.
With the win, the Tigers are now tied with Texas A&M for the 12th and final spot in the SEC Tournament. Both teams are 7-18 in SEC play following Friday’s game, and Auburn improves to 21-24 overall with the win.
“It’s a lot better feeling being a winner on Friday night, so that was huge, said Rankin Woley. “Tonight, it just really came down to the little things —pitches in key spots when you needed them the most. Skip really did well, and Jack kept us in it and that was awesome. We got a bunt down late, had some big hits, and that was awesome.”
Auburn got some early run support in the bottom of the first as Woley’s solo shot gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. The lead did not last long for Auburn as Texas A&M’s Kalae Harrison responded in the top of the second inning with a sacrifice fly with runners on the corners.
The Aggies then took the lead in the top of the third following a two-run home run by Taylor Smith. The two-run shot gave Texas A&M a 3-1 lead, but it was the last time that the Aggies scored until the ninth.
The Tigers began chipping away at the Aggie lead in the bottom of the third as Ryan Bliss homered with two outs to make it a 3-2 game. In the bottom of the fourth, Auburn tied things up at 3-all following Brody Moore’s double to bring Steven Williams home from second.
After giving up runs in the second and third, Auburn starting pitcher Jack Owen held the Aggies scoreless over his final two innings of work. In his final start at home, the senior pitched five innings for the Tigers, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out three.
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“Jack scared me to death,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “He didn’t have his stuff early and amazingly got out of the first inning. To Jack’s credit and my point, he was able to give us a scoreless fourth and fifth before going to Gonzalez. I think that’s huge and sometimes it takes experience to do that.”
Joseph Gonzalez came out of the bullpen for Auburn to start the sixth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning for the Tigers before Carson Skipper replaced Gonzalez in the seventh.
Skipper pitched the final three innings for Auburn and picked up the win. He gave up two hits and one run while striking out four.
“It’s a big win, Skipper said. “A big momentum shift for us just given the challenges and difficulties we faced this season, but to win tonight is big for us.”
Like Auburn, Texas A&M made a pitching change in the seventh inning as they handed the ball over to Chandler Jozwiak after starting pitcher Dustin Saenz walked the leadoff batter in the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, Auburn broke the 3-3 tie.
A leadoff walk for Cam Hill got things started for the Tigers in the seventh. Kason Howell advanced pinch-runner Garrett Farquhar to second with a groundout. With Farquhar on second, Ryan Dyal singled before Judd Ward was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Bliss.
With one out, Bliss sent a shot to right field that was caught, but Farquhar tagged up and scored to give Auburn a 4-3 lead.
Auburn added an insurance run in the eighth with the bases loaded yet again as Ryan Dyal was walked on a full count with two outs to bring in a run.
A solo shot for Texas A&M with two outs in the ninth cut the Auburn lead down to just one run, but the next batter grounded out to end the game.
The Tigers and Aggies will meet Saturday at 2 p.m. CST for the second game in their three-game series.
The atmosphere also tonight was just incredible, and that’s fun to play behind,” Woley said. “It was a big win and hopefully we’re going to keep that momentum for tomorrow.”
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