Bullpen saves the day for Tigers

AUBURN – It looked like trouble when Indiana State answered Auburn’s 3-run first inning with a 5-run second Sunday at Plainsman Park.

Justin Camp retired 12 consecutive batters/Lauren Barnard photo

But relief pitchers Justin Camp and Conner Kendrick, with the help of clutch hitting from Ryan Tella, made sure it wasn’t.

Camp replaced starter Rocky McCord with two outs in the second. He promptly gave up a double to Koby Kraemer. It was Indiana State’s sixth and last hit of the game. Camp shut out the Sycamores for four innings and Kendrick for 3 1/3 as Auburn rallied for a 6-5 victory in the final game of the Auburn tournament.

Auburn improved to 6-1 on the season. Indiana State fell to 3-4.

“We put three on the board real quick and I was thinking ‘We have a lot of momentum,’” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “Next thing I know, we are down two. The difference was Justin Camp’s ability to get the momentum swung back into our dugout. Justin and Conner Kendrick gave our offense a chance, and our defense did a great job.”

Auburn finished the tournament 2-1, rebounding from a 2-1 loss to Middle Tennessee State to beat College of Charleston and Indiana State. Middle Tennessee State went 3-0, Indiana State 1-2 and College of Charleston 0-3.

Pawlowski said he had confidence his bullpen would pick up the slack after McCord’s struggles. And he had good reason to have confidence. The Tigers’ bullpen has a 1.28 ERA through seven games.

“We feel like that is one of our strengths,” Pawlowski said. “Justin Camp, you can’t say enough about him. He threw three pitches for strikes, and Conner Kendrick did a great job against those lefties.”

Auburn jumped out early with plenty of help from Indiana State. Starting pitcher Jeff Degano walked one, hit one and was called for a balk and the Tigers scored three unearned runs. After Indiana State took the lead, Tella tied it with a bases-loaded double that scored two runs.

In the fourth, Dan Glevenyak laced a one-out double over the centerfielder’s head and Tella drove him home with a single for what proved to be the winning run.

For Auburn, leadoff hitter Jackson Burgreen, Tella and Blake Austin had two hits apiece. The Tigers had 12 hits in the game and left seven runners on base.

Off to their best start since 2007, the Tigers play Kennesaw State on Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Plainsman Park.

Already have an account? Sign In