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Tigers break loose, rough up Rebels

AUBURN – Shedding frustration with every swing, Auburn’s hitters tore into Ole Miss pitchers with a vengeance on a chilly May Saturday at Plainsman Park.

Blake Austin was 4-for-4 with three doubles Saturday.

* Jordan-Ebert lined a bases-loaded single to right-center in the first inning to drive home two runs. In 23 Southeastern Conference games, it was Auburn’s first bases-loaded hit.

* Ryan Tella broke out of 0-for-22 slump with a single and a double.

* Blake Austin went 4-for-4 with three doubles.

* Damek Tomscha hit a booming game-tying home run in the fifth inning.

In the end, the Tigers banged out 12 hits, five for extra bases, and rallied from a 5-3 deficit to beat No. 18 Ole Miss 8-5 at Plainsman Park and even the weekend series at a game apiece. Auburn improved to 26-19 overall and 8-15 in the SEC. Ole Miss fell to 33-15 and 12-11.

The start of the game was moved from 2:15 to 6 p.m. because of afternoon rain. Temperatures dipped into the 40s, but Auburn's offense heated up anyway.

For a team that had scored no more than one run in five of its last six Southeastern Conference games and had scored two runs or fewer in 12 of the previous 22 SEC games, it was welcome relief.

Austin said it all started when Garrett Cooper battled Ole Miss pitcher Mike Mayers and got a two-out, two-strike single in the first inning. After two walks, Ebert broke Auburn’s bases-loaded drought.

“It started with Garrett Cooper in the first inning,” Austin said. “He comes up and battles with two strikes, works the count and gets a base hit. That set for the tone for the game.”

For the first time in a long time, Auburn hitters executed the offense the way hitting coach Gabe Gross has preached all season. They took pitches. They fouled off pitches. They got more than 100 pitches into Mayers in five innings. And when reliever Aaron Greenwood replaced him, they jumped all over him.

“I thought we gained some confidence during the course of the game today,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said.

After Auburn took a 2-0 first-inning lead, Ole Miss scored a run in the second, a run in the third and three in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead. Auburn ace Michael O’Neal left after giving up back-to-back singles to start the fifth.

In the sixth, Tella led off with a single to left that broke his drought. That chased Mayers. Tomscha greeted Greenwood with a home run that sailed far over the left field fence. Austin followed that with a double off the left field wall, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Cullen Wacker’s sacrifice fly.

In the seventh, Ebert reached on an error. Tella drove him home with a double to right and scored on Austin’s double down the left field line.

Auburn closer Terrance Dedrick took over from there, pitching three perfect innings and striking out three for his sixth save. Justin Camp, who gave up three hits and a run in 2 1/3 innings, was the winner and ran his record to 5-1.

The rubber game of the series is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.

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