No. 18 Auburn clinched the Georgia series with a 4-3 victory over the No. 15 Bulldogs on Saturday, April 30.
“It makes the win a lot better,” said freshman Bri Ellis. “I’m just glad we were able to come back and do it, get the timely hits and have great pitching. It’s just a whole team win, truly.”
Junior KK Dismukes got the nod in the circle for the Tigers. She pitched a complete game for her sixth win of the season. Although Dismukes gave up two home runs to a potent Bulldog offense, she only gave up one other run. Dismukes surrendered three walks and collected two strikeouts, relying heavily on a defense that only had one error the entire game.
With Shelby Lowe unexpectedly out, Dismukes was called in as the starter rather than her regular role as relief.
“I just sat down with her before the game, talked about ‘Hey, if you can get this guy and this guy, then I think we can control these hitters. I don’t think they match up well against you,’” said head coach Mickey Dean.
Georgia struck early in the top of the first inning. Senior Lacey Fincher, who also hit a home run in game one, hit a solo home run to put the Dawgs up early 1-0 before the half inning came to a close.
The Tigers attempted to answer back in the bottom of the first inning, but left bases loaded to end the inning with no runs scored.
The Bulldogs scored another run with two outs in the bottom of the second inning. A walk to senior Savana Sikes and a single by sophomore Payden Bordeau had runners on first and third. Sophomore Ellie Armistead walked as well, but a wild pitch scored Sikes before Dismukes collected the strikeout to end the frame.
Auburn once again had a scoring opportunity when two Tigers drew back-to-back walks in the bottom of the second inning. However, these runs were once again stranded to end the frame.
Georgia stretched its lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning via a solo home run by senior Mackenzie Puckett. Sikes hit a single right after the homer, originally ruled an out by the field umpire, but overturned after Georgia challenged the call. No more damage was done in the inning.
Auburn finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning. A single by junior Carlee McCondichie and a double by junior Lindsey Garcia scores Auburn’s first run of the game. Two walks loaded the bases and another run scored due to fielder’s choice. Auburn left the bases loaded to end the inning, but cut the lead to one run headed to the top of the fifth inning.
By leaving the bases loaded again, the Tigers left 10 runners on base through the first four innings of play. At the end of the game, even though Auburn earned the win, 12 runners were left on base for the Tigers.
Dismukes tossed two perfect innings in the fifth and sixth innings. This set up the momentum swing between teams as well as the lead change in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“That’s usually the closing role in me,” said junior KK Dismukes. “I’m used to the pressure at the end of the game and that’s what it was.”
Although not the record-breaking home run, Ellis came up clutch once again in the bottom of the sixth inning. Packer and Blaine both walked to start the inning. Ellis hit a double to tie the game, and Peralta came up with a instrumental sacrifice fly to push the Tigers ahead of Georgia with a score of 4-3 headed into the top of the seventh inning.
“That’s just timely hitting,” said Ellis. “That’s how she is, Nelia. She’s our most consistent hitter on the team. She’s great at keeping herself composed in the box and I’m just so proud of her. She was able to get up and sacrifice herself to score a run and give us the lead.”
Once again, Dismukes remained unflappable, recording a perfect frame once again to shut down the Georgia offense for the win. Dean commented it was her game to win and that sophomore Maddie Penta never warmed up to come in as relief.
“Just to see her out there, throwing crazy good pitches, I’m just so proud of her,” Ellis said. “I’m so happy she stayed in all seven innings and was able to shut down such a great hitting team.”
It was not Georgia’s night for base running. In the first inning, a fielder’s choice was turned into a double play by junior Sara Mosley’s interference sliding into second base. In the third inning, Fincher, who hit a double to get on base, ran into freshman shortstop Nelia Peralta and was also called out for interference.
It was also a night for challenges. A total of four challenges were issued during the game, two for each team. Auburn won both its challenges, which were related to base running interference. Georgia won a challenge about an out call at first and lost a safe call about the Auburn runner beating the throw to third base.
Several Tigers stepped up at the plate in this close game. Peralta went 1-for-2 with a single and two RBIs, one of which gave Auburn the late lead. Ellis went 1-for-3 with the RBI double that tied the game. Both at-bats were instrumental in the series-clinching win.
“Knowing they have my back and I did what I was supposed to do to have their back was a good feeling,” Dismukes said. “I am comfortable doing whatever I am told to do. I have their back as long as they have mine.”
Auburn will attempt a sweep of Georgia in game three Sunday, May 1, at 1p.m. CST. The game will air on SEC Network+.
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Emily Porch is a senior from Sylacauga, Alabama. She joined The Plainsman in fall 2021.