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A spirit that is not afraid

7th-inning comeback sparks Auburn's win over No. 18 Iowa in Jax College Classic

Auburn trailed the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes 3-2 in the seventh inning of its opening game in the Jax College Classic, but used big swings and strong relief pitching to break things open and surge to a 7-5 comeback win. 

In the bottom of the seventh, Auburn got things started with a Mason Maners solo home run to tie the game and ignite a Tigers offense that had been stagnant up until that point. Bobby Peirce hit a two-run shot to give the Tigers the 5-3 lead to end the seventh. 

The Hawkeyes' starting pitcher Brody Brecht came out lighting the Tigers on fire, recording 11 strikeouts and only allowing two runs on two hits in six innings of work, but the Tigers took advantage when the Hawkeyes went to the bullpen. 

“We just hung in there,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “We just saw a top-10 pick overall, but when they went to the bullpen, Maners’ one swing got us back tied and we saw a chance after going through a ton of adversity for the first six innings of the game.” 

Auburn added some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth when Christian Hall hit a solo home run. Cooper Weiss added to the lead with a sacrifice fly to score Javon Hernandez, giving Auburn the 7-3 lead before a two-out home run in the top of the ninth from Iowa would make it 7-5. 

The Tigers' bullpen with John Armstrong and Cam Tilly proved to be pivotal in the comeback. Armstrong went 2.2 innings and struck out two while only allowing one hit. The true freshman Tilly went two innings, keeping the Hawkeyes in check by allowing just one hit and striking out three. Will Cannon came in for the close and gave up a two-run home run before solidifying the win for Auburn. 

“When we got to Armstrong, the three relievers that came in the ballgame tonight, they did not walk a batter,” Thompson said. “All three were good. All three shoved the ball in the strike zone and I think that’s how we got to the finish line once our offense cranked up.”

Tilly earned the win, the first of his Auburn career, after his two innings of work.

“I was just telling myself to breathe, just use my stuff and attack," Tilly said. “I knew my stuff was enough, it was just a matter of attacking and trusting my defense.” 

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Thompson gave the starting nod to Chase Allsup who never found a rhythm and gave Iowa an early 3-1 lead before handing things over to the bullpen. He finished giving up five hits and three runs in 3.1 innings pitched. 

Christian Hall led the Tigers at the plate going 2-for-4 with a home run. Behind him was Bobby Peirce who went 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. Maners also went 1-for-2 with a home run and an RBI. 

The Tigers will have a quick turnaround for game two of the Jax College Classic as they take on Wichita State at noon CST on Saturday. The game can be streamed on

Logan Fowler | Sports Writer

Logan Fowler is a junior from Sumiton, Alabama, majoring in journalism. He joined The Plainsman in Spring 2024.

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