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A spirit that is not afraid

Late game heroics propel Auburn to walk off win over Ole Miss

Auburn Baseball defeats Georgia Tech 12-8 at home on April 16th 2024
Auburn Baseball defeats Georgia Tech 12-8 at home on April 16th 2024

Auburn baseball earned a dramatic victory in the bottom of the ninth inning over the Ole Miss Rebels, walking it off 10-9 on two wild pitches and a stolen base on Sunday, May 5 at Plainsman Park.

In a game where the crowd thought just about every possible scenario happened, a new one kept popping up as the contest carried on into the night.

The ninth inning was full of fireworks by both sides, but junior Tiger Javon Hernandez proved to be the hero with his team down to the last chance.

After Kaleb Freeman came in to hit a pinch hit single that tied the game, Hernandez was called on following a pitching change to put some speed on the base path.

With Cooper Weiss up at the plate, Hernandez advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third and then scored on another wild pitch to win the game for Auburn, avoiding the sweep and keeping the team’s SEC Tournament hopes alive.

Auburn head coach Butch Thompson knew the motivation that his quick senior had to help win this ball game, but was shocked as to how much the new backstop distance came into play.

“Our backstop is closer than it has ever been and really hadn’t been in play all year like I thought it would be,” Thompson said. “Hernandez was playing to win, he was running to win and I think he jumped it and that was much needed.”

The beginning of this game was not something to write home about for Auburn starting pitcher Carson Myers, as the Ole Miss bats got to him early and often. 

After Luke Hill single got things going for the Rebels in the first , Andrew Fischer started his day off with a monster home run over the center field fence, giving Mike Bianco’s squad an early 2-0 lead.

Jackson Ross walked right after Fischer’s big blast, handing it off to Will Furniss who singled to right field and put two runners on. This set Treyson Hughes up to hit a three-run long ball of his own, putting Ole Miss up five.

Myers then exited after giving up a walk, recording just two outs in his start.

The Tigers did not let this big blow hurt them, though, as the offense came back into the dugout with runs on the mind. With two runners on and two outs in the bottom half of the inning, Cade Belyeu singled into right field to score the team’s first run.

Caden Green followed this up with a single of his own through the left side, plating Carter Wright and making it a 5-2 ball game.

The second inning yielded more success for the Tigers, as Deric Fabian led things off with a single into left center. After he moved all the way around to third base, Ike Irish hit a ball hard enough towards second base that resulted in a fielding error, allowing Fabian to score and cut the deficit to two runs.

Green continued Auburn’s luck in the third inning, as with Belyeu on second base with one out, he laced another single into right field, bringing home the team’s fourth run and putting the Tigers right back in the game.

Fabian had more to say in the fourth inning when he led the inning off again with a double down the left field line. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, which allowed Chris Stanfield to launch a double into the right center gap, tying the game at five runs each and giving Auburn all the momentum.

All while this was happening, Chase Allsup kept the positive vibes going on the mound after coming in for Cam Tilly, who had to exit in the middle of the third inning with a minor oblique injury.

The junior right-hander out of Dothan continually put away the Rebel hitters inning after inning. He worked for 4.2 innings off of very little warm up time, giving up just four hits and striking out nine, posting a career-high on the night.

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He knew that he was in the right mindset, not looking too far into what was ahead of him in the game, and instead just staying in the present moment.

“The biggest was just taking it a batter at a time,” said Auburn pitcher Chase Allsup. “Just staying within myself, trying to keep the deficit where it was and give our team a chance.

He was still going in the seventh inning, when the Tigers made another move at the plate. After Cooper McMurray legged out a double down the right field line, Belyeu stepped up and hit another double back down the right field line to score McMurray and give Auburn the lead for the first time in the game.

However, this was just the beginning of the late drama that this contest had to offer.

Allsup’s day ended on the mound in the top of eighth inning after Jackson Ross led the Rebels off with a solo shot on a 3-1 count, tying the game back up at six runs each.

Despite the home run to end the outing, Thompson has seen the growth that his pitcher has taken on throughout his career, knowing he has a bright future ahead of him.

“He’s absolutely grown as a pitcher,” Thompson said. “I appreciate Chase because he’s always had trust. Whether I start him on a Friday night or whether I do this that he’s never above the journey and has always been willing to do whatever.” 

With the Tigers needing an answer to keep Ole Miss from gaining all the momentum, Weiss took the second pitch he saw and sent it just over the right field fence for a solo home run, making it a 7-6 game.

Ike Irish came up to the plate later on in the inning and joined in on the action with Weiss, sending his first pitch of the at-bat even deeper into right field, giving Auburn a two-run advantage heading into the ninth.

As the Rebels came to bat with the game on the line, their players stepped up big and put the same pressure on the Tigers’ bullpen that they had seen all season. 

Campbell Smithwick began the top of the inning with a single up the middle, which later set up Ethan Groff to single through the left side. Hill then walked to follow that up, loading the bases with one out.

Parker Carlson then took over for Conner McBride on the mound and was immediately treated to Fischer hitting a bases-clearing double to the left center wall, putting Ole Miss up 9-8. Fortunately for Carlson, he limited things after that, allowing no more damage to occur.

The stage was set for Auburn. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Mason Maners hit a triple down the right field line, setting up Freeman to hit his single into center field and tie the game.

After that, the reins were handed over to Hernandez, where he completed the job and sent the folks at Plainsman Park into a frenzy, securing the 10-9 victory.

Hernandez was proud of his accomplishment, but was even more so proud of his teammates for keeping the resiliency up and not backing down to the challenge they were given.

“We were fighting all day,” said Auburn senior Javon Hernandez. “It was a back-and-forth battle and I’m just proud of my guys to keep fighting and staying up there and not backing off.”

Green and Belyeu each proved to play huge factors in the win, combining for four hits and four RBIs, along with drawing a walk each as well.

Carlson earned the win on the mound for the Tigers, pitching for just two-thirds of an inning in the ninth. He was not responsible for giving up a run on the night, and instead just gave up one hit while striking out two and intentionally walking one. He improves 3-1 on the year.

On the other side, JT Quinn was given the loss for the Rebels, as he drops to 1-2 on the season. He worked for 2.2 innings in relief, giving up four runs on four hits, while striking out two.

The Auburn win keeps the team’s hopes of making the conference tournament alive, as it now prepares to travel to Georgia Tech on Tuesday before its next conference series at Missouri next weekend.

First pitch in the game between the Tigers and Yellow Jackets is set for 5 p.m. CST at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Tyler Raley | Sports Writer

Tyler Raley is a junior from Birmingham, Alabama, majoring in journalism.

Twitter: @traley34

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