GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Auburn’s baseball team, on perhaps the biggest day of the season to date, put the disappointment of Saturday aside and beat Florida 4-1 Sunday to win the weekend series two games to one at McKethan Stadium.
Ryan Tella hit two 3-run homers against Florida/Lauren Barnard photo
With the victory, the Tigers kept alive hope of finding their way into an NCAA regional and all but clinched a berth in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Ryan Tella hit a two-out, three-run homer in the sixth and three Auburn pitchers limited the Gators to seven hits. Justin Camp, making his first career start, pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up five hits. Chase Williamson gave up a run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings to get the win and run his record to 3-0. Closer Terrance Dedrick pitched two hitless innings to earn his eighth save.
Auburn improved to 31-20 overall and 11-16 in the SEC, passing Kentucky for sole possession of 10th place and moving to within half a game of ninth-place Texas A&M. Florida fell to 28-25 overall and 13-14 in the SEC.
The Tigers close the season with a three game series against No. 14 Arkansas, starting Thursday at Plainsman Park. They probably need two wins to be in the NCAA regional discussion.
Auburn players and coaches left stunned and disappointed after blowing a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday. But the Tigers got a run in Damek Tomscha’s leadoff homer. After Tella’s homer in the sixth, the pitchers did the rest.
“Today was as big a day as we’ve had all year,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “To respond the way we did, to come out here and have the will to win and the passion and play as hard as they did is a testament to this team. I’m really proud of this team today.”
Tella said he and his teammates were determined to overcome the disappointment of one that got away Saturday night.
“We put that behind us,” Tella said. “We’ve been rolling for about two weeks now. We are starting to believe now. We’re clicking on offense, defense and pitching.”
The left-handed hitting Tella, who had struck out with the bases loaded in the fourth, faced left-hander Danny Young out of the bullpen in the sixth. After talking with hitting coach Gabe Gross, he bunted foul on the first pitch. Then he hit a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left-center to give Auburn all the runs it would need.
Tella also hit a three-run homer in Auburn's 7-4 victory Friday night.
“I was going to bunt, but that didn’t work out,” Tella said. “The second and third pitches were cutters up. I got a fastball over the middle of the plate and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
He drove home Patrick Savage, who had been hit by a pitch, and Jordan Ebert, who had singled.
Camp didn’t know until Saturday night that he would get the call in the biggest of situations.
“They just asked me to do to me job, to get as far as I could in the game and go as hard as I could as long as I could,” Camp said. “That’s what I tried to do.”
Blake Austin went 3-for-4 for the Tigers. Cullen Wacker and Garrett Cooper were 2-for-4. The Tigers outhit the Gators 10-7 and did not make an error.
Auburn plays its final nonconference game Tuesday night at Plainsman Park before facing Arkansas in what could be a make-or-break series in the fight to get a regional.