Auburn's comeback victory clinches series vs. UGA
AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn notched its ninth comeback win of the season and clinched its conference home-opening series vs. Georgia with a 6-3 win in front of a sold out crowd at Plainsman Park Friday night.
The Tigers (16-6-1, 2-3 SEC) scored four runs in the sixth to take the lead and held Georgia (14-9, 0-5 SEC) to just one unearned run in its last six at-bats to secure the win.
"Of course we wanted to do a whole lot more early. I don't know how long it went before we got a hit, three of four innings or so, but we stayed in it," head coach Butch Thompson said. "That's another way to define our 'staying in the fight' is if you're drawing closer with these swings and approaches.
"We avoided the big inning and were able to hang around until the offense clicked in, Kirby's big swing," Thompson added. "They still got 10 hits, but I thought we battled a really good team tonight."
Trailing 3-1 entering the sixth, Auburn scored four runs in the home half of the frame to take the lead. Justin Kirby provided the big blow with a three-run, go-ahead homer with two outs in the inning.
"I got a little bit closer to what I was trying to execute throughout my first two at-bats but was still unsuccessful," Kirby said. "Then in my third at-bat, I really made sure to execute my plan. I got a good pitch with two strikes that I knew I could handle. I stayed short, tried to be smooth and not hard, and good things happen."
Auburn's bullpen held Georgia without an earned run in its last six at-bats. John Armstrong (5-0, 3.91) pitched 2.2 scoreless innings en route to earning his team-best fifth win, while Chase Isbell entered after a leadoff double in the ninth and recorded the final three outs to earn his second save.
"I feel like me creating ground balls just adds a little something and maybe it just sparks some guys," Armstrong said. "Maybe it's more of a psychological 'I need to lock in here.' Then it kind of just goes to the bats. I feel like when I come in and start creating ground balls, it kind of locks in the guys a little bit more."
Tanner Bauman made his third start of the season and retired the first four Bulldogs hitters he faced, but the next four reached and Georgia took a 1-0 lead in the second. However, the junior lefty buckled down and left the bases loaded with a foul out to first and strikeout.
Georgia doubled its lead on a solo homer with one out in the third and starting pitcher Jaden Woods faced the minimum while allowing only one baserunner in his first four innings pitched.
The Bulldogs started the fifth inning with a hit-by-pitch, and the Tigers misplayed a pair of fly balls in the frame that ultimately costed them a run to make it a 3-0 ballgame. However, Chase Allsup minimized the damage to the one unearned run and ultimately bridged the gap to Armstrong with 2.2 innings of work.
The Tigers got the unearned run right back as Ike Irish started the bottom of the fifth by hitting a 1-2 pitch the other way and over the monster in left field, marking his first collegiate homer.
Trailing by two with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, Irish lifted a fly ball to center field to draw the Tigers to within one. With two on and two out, Kirby then launched a 2-2 pitch deep into the night to give Auburn its first lead, 5-3. The home run was Kirby's eighth of the season and his first during league play.
Georgia appeared to cut its deficit to one with a two-out RBI single in the seventh. However, the runner missed home plate and was out on a tag play to end the inning.
The Bulldogs threatened again by putting two on with nobody out in the eighth, but Armstrong and the Auburn defense buckled down to maintain its two-run lead. With runners on the corners, nobody out and the top of the lineup coming to bat, Chris Stanfield made a sliding catch in right and fired home to keep the runner at third. Armstrong then induced a ground ball to third, and the runner was caught too far off the base for the second out. Armstrong then got Georgia's three-hole hitter, who homered earlier in the game, to ground out to short to end the inning.
Isbell entered with a runner on in the ninth and walked a batter to bring the tying run to the plate with one out, but the senior righty ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts.
Caden Green led the way with two hits in the contest, while Kirby and Irish combined to drive in five of the team's six runs.
The series finale between Auburn and Georgia is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. CT.