AUBURN – Bobby Andrews didn’t see it coming when he walked on the Auburn baseball team last fall. He just wanted to show he belonged.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco was ejected in the third inning/Todd Van Emst photo
He belongs all right.
Andrews, the fastest player on Auburn’s team, had four hits and drove in three runs Thursday night as Auburn beat Ole Miss 6-3 in the first game of a three-game series.
Mostly used as a pinch-runner early in the season, Andrews moved into the starting lineup on in the series finale against Vanderbilt and has started every game since. He’s hit safely in eight of those games and is hitting .385.
“No, not by any means,” Andrews said when asked if he expected to be in such a position. “I just came out here, did what I was supposed to do, put in my time and it’s paid off. I’m thankful for it.”
Three Auburn pitchers dominated Ole Miss hitters in the game televised by ESPNU. Dan Gamache and Kevin Patterson hit home runs. The Tigers trailed 2-0 after the first inning and 3-2 after the top of the seventh. But they scored two in the bottom of the seventh and two in the bottom of the eighth.
Derek Varnadore, out last week with a sore arm, pitched six strong innings, giving two runs on two hits. Ethan Wallen gave up three runs and a hit in two innings. Freshman Dillon Ortman came on with two on and nobody out in the ninth and retired three straight, striking out two.
Auburn moved to 22-15 overall and 8-8 in the SEC, half a game behind Alabama and Arkansas, tied for first in the West. Ole Miss fell to 23-16 and 8-8.
The Tigers won for the sixth time in seven SEC games. In those games, they have outscored Kentucky, LSU and Ole Miss 42-12 after the sixth inning.
“One of the things we try to put a lot of emphasis on is getting the game to the seventh inning and trying to win the last three innings,” Pawlowski said. “We’ve been fortunate to do that. Varney and Ethan and certainly Dillon put us in position to win that game.”
Gamache got Auburn ion the board with a home run into the bullpen in right field to lead off the second inning. Creede Simpson led off the third with a double and scored on Andrews’ single. The Tigers then loaded the bases with one out but did not score.
Ole Miss jumped on top 3-2, but Auburn answered quickly. Simpson singled. Cullen Wacker, batting for Zach Alford, singled to left on a hit-and-run. Andrews singled, scoring Simpson. Justin Hargett, running for Wacker, scored on Casey McElroy’s sacrifice fly.
In the eighth, after Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco was ejected for arguing, Patterson hit a tape measure home run far over the right field fence. Hargett tripled and scored on Andrews’ single.
Auburn outhit the Rebels 13-5.
Pawlowski said Zach Blatt, who got his first career start last Friday at LSU, will get the start in tonight’s game. Start time is set for 6.