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Auburn, Alabama

Auburn earns comeback win vs. Mizzou with luck of Irish

191 days ago
Auburn Athletics
Photo: Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. - Ike Irish delivered the game-winning hit, but there was nothing lucky about it.

With Missouri playing him to pull, the left-handed hitter singled through the left side to drive in the game-winning runs in No. 19 Auburn's 9-7 comeback win over Missouri Saturday at Plainsman Park, the Tigers' eighth straight SEC win and second consecutive series sweep.

"We battled and we fought, we figured some stuff out and it's all come together here lately," said Irish, who was 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. "I was not trying to do too much, stay with my approach and put the ball in play, especially with two strikes. They shifted on me and I hit it where they weren't, and we got one to sneak through."

Auburn's win streak is the program's longest in SEC play since the 1995 Tigers won nine consecutive league games. Auburn concludes the regular season by winning an SEC-best 12 of 15 games in the second half to overcome a 5-10 conference start.

"We absolutely played hard and kept going," Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. "When it opened up and we got an opportunity, we made the most of it."

Auburn batted around in the eighth, scoring five runs to turn a three-deficit into a two-run lead on the strength of five hits, four of them with two strikes.

Trailing 7-4, pinch-hitter Brody Wortham initiated the rally with a leadoff single on a full count. With one out, Chris Stanfield doubled down the left-field line, advancing to third and scoring Wortham on an outfield error.

Cole Foster singled on a 1-2 pitch to score Stanfield, pulling the Tigers within a run at 7-6. With two outs, Cooper McMurray doubled down the right-field line to advance Foster to third.

After an intentional walk to Bryson Ware loaded the bases, Auburn tied the game at 7-7 when Foster scored on a wild pitch, moving McMurray to third and Ware to second.

With a full count and Missouri's shortstop playing up the middle, Irish came through with key hit to score McMurray and Ware.

Winning pitcher Will Cannon (3-1) recorded the final five outs, retiring the visiting Tigers in order in the top of the ninth.

Missouri scored three runs in the top of the first inning on a two-run home run and an RBI single. With the bases loaded, Kason Howell threw out a runner trying to advance from first to third on a single before another baserunner could score from second to limit the damage.

Auburn plated two runs in the bottom of the second after Irish led off with a double, moved to third on Howell's single and scored on Caden Green's sacrifice fly. Nate LaRue doubled off the wall to advance Howell to third before Stanfield brought him home with a sac fly.

Missouri capitalized on a third hit batter and a pair of singles to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the third.

Auburn responded in the bottom of the inning when Bobby Peirce doubled on an 0-2 pitch to chase Missouri starter Logan Lunceford, moving to third on a wild pitch from reliever Nic Smith and scoring on Ware's single to short.

Missouri scored for the third time in four innings on a bunt single and RBI double to lead 5-3.

Auburn answered in the bottom of the fourth when LaRue homered on the first pitch off Missouri reliever Austin Troesser to pull the home Tigers within a run at 5-4.

Tanner Bauman kept Auburn within striking distance, retiring 11 straight batters from the last out of the fourth inning until a bunt single against the shift with one out in the eighth.

Ty Wilmsmeyer followed with a two-run homer to give Missouri a 7-4 lead.

"I just wanted to go out there and fill up the zone and give my offense a chance to get back in this game, which obviously they did," said Bauman, who struck out three in 3.2 innings while allowing two runs. "Coming back on a short day's rest, I wanted to keep it easy, let my defense work, which is what I try to do, and it ended up working out pretty well."

Auburn used six pitchers. Drew Nelson started, giving up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning before being relieved by John Armstrong.

Tommy Vail, scratched from his Friday start with an illness, took over in the second inning, allowing one earned run in two innings. Cameron Keshock relieved Vail before Bauman entered.

Auburn fans sold out Plainsman Park for all 15 SEC home games in 2023 for the first time in program history.

"Our crowd has been amazing," Thompson said. "They were rewarded today for finishing the season with us. They got really loud. People are impacting the game. We're at level two and the best is yet to come; we'll get to level three. We're going to give Plainsman Park a facelift and really make an investment in this ballpark. It's only going to get better."

Seeking their ninth consecutive conference win for the first time in nearly three decades, the Tigers (33-19-1, 17-13) will head to the SEC Tournament Tuesday at the Hoover Met with an opponent and game time determined pending the conclusion of Saturday's SEC schedule.