AUBURN, Ala. - No. 13 Auburn scored three runs in its last two at-bats to complete its comeback and defeat Lipscomb 12-11 in walk-off fashion Saturday at Plainsman Park.
Bryson Ware hit a two-run homer to tie the game 11-11 in the bottom of the eighth, and Ike Irish put the finishing touches on the comeback with a bases-loaded, one-out single in the bottom of the ninth.
"We just keep playing," head coach Butch Thompson said. "I'm so thankful for this offensive group, and trying to apply a bit of faith to what we're doing pitching wise. The defense held up and the offense was stellar."
The walk-off win was Auburn's first since a 10-inning affair against Alabama State in April of last season and marked the team's third come-from-behind win this season.
Irish drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the eighth, and Ware brought them both in with a two-run homer off the scoreboard in left center. The homer, which left Ware's bat at 107 miles per hour with a launch angle of 16 degrees, was the third baseman's fifth of the season, all coming in the last seven games.
"That's a really good ball club we're playing there, and no lead is safe with a team that can swing it like that," Ware said. "They got a late lead, but this club, with the fight we have in us, no lead was safe for them either. We tried to stay in it the best that we could, and thankfully it worked out for us."
Auburn (8-1-1) started the bottom of the ninth with a walk from Caden Green and double from Kason Howell to put a pair of runners in scoring position. An intentional walk to Cole Foster loaded the bases, but Lipscomb got a strikeout for its first out of the inning. Irish then stepped to the plate sent the second pitch he saw back up the middle to score pinch runner Josh Hall from third and end the game.
"I was thinking 'the bigger the moment, the softer and smaller I swing,'" Irish said. "I just thought 'I've got to put a ball in play here and good things happen.' I think you saw that. Credit to Bryson. We wouldn't be in that spot if he doesn't hit that two-run blast. Big hits by all of our team today. Go down the lineup one through nine and we all contributed to that moment. We all did our jobs tonight."
After Lipscomb (5-5) scored 10 runs in the first four innings, Chase Isbell settled down to hold the Bisons scoreless in the next three frames. Will Cannon (1-0, 1.50) entered to start the eighth and allowed one run in the final two innings to earn his first win in an Auburn uniform. Isbell's 3.1 innings and seven strikeouts were both career bests.
"Chase Isbell, he was part of the six-run inning with two outs and then, all of a sudden, the slider got set beneath the hitters and the fastball got a little length," Thompson said. "I do want to credit Nate (LaRue) with some of that and getting us back into a rhythm, getting our plate back. We started going in(side) a little bit and creating a little bit of discomfort, but I think we really lowered our stuff, pitched into them a little bit more."
Lipscomb struck first with a solo homer from the second batter of the game, but the Tigers responded in a big way in the bottom of the second as nine straight batters reached after the first two of the inning were retired. Foster got the scoring started with a RBI single to shortstop, and the go-ahead run came in as the throw to first sailed wide and went to the wall. Justin Kirby extended the lead with a single to left, and Irish ripped his second double of the game to right to score a pair. Ware then hit a RBI double to right center, and Ryan Dyal capped off the seven-run frame with a RBI single through the right side.
The Bisons drew closer with three runs on a RBI double and two-run homer in the top of the third, but Auburn got one of the runs back on a RBI double from Kirby in the bottom of the inning to make it an 8-4 game through three.
However, Lipscomb scored six two-out runs in the top of the fourth to take a 10-8 lead. The runs came on two- and three-run homers to go along with a RBI single.
After entering at the end of the fourth, Isbell was able to settle down and retire nine of the next 11 batters he faced to get the Tigers through the seventh inning with Lipscomb stuck on 10 runs.
With Isbell holding Lipscomb scoreless, Auburn drew to within a run on a walk from Irish, second double of the game from Ware and RBI infield single from Chris Stanfield in the bottom of the sixth.
The Bisons got the run back after a leadoff walk came around to score in the top of the eighth, but the Tigers responded with Ware's aforementioned two-run homer and Irish's walk-off winner.
Foster matched Irish and Ware with three hits in the game, and six players ultimately recorded multiple hits. Irish and Ware also led the way with three RBI apiece.
The series finale between the two teams is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at Plainsman Park.