AUBURN – For at least one day in May, Auburn baseball was fun again at Plainsman Park on Sunday.
Damek Tomscha's homer proved to be the difference for Auburn/Todd Van Emst photo
Auburn hitters came through at the biggest of times, going 7-for-14 with two outs and scoring all the Tigers’ runs with two outs. None was bigger than Damek Tomscha’s two-out homer that gave Auburn the lead in the bottom of the eighth.
Right fielder Hunter Kelley robbed Ole Miss of two home runs, leaping and reaching over the fence. Closer Terrance Dedrick ended the game with a diving, over-the-shoulder catch. Catcher Blake Austin picked a runner off second base with the bases loaded and Stuart Turner, Ole Miss’ best hitter, at bad. Five Auburn pitchers held Ole Miss hitters at bay.
And Auburn grabbed a stirring 5-4 victory before a boisterous announced crowd of 2,407.
The victory, their first this season in an SEC series finale, pushed the Tigers to 27-19 overall and 9-15 in the SEC. Ole Miss fell to 33-16 and 12-12. With two SEC series remaining, Auburn is in 11th place, 1 ½ games behind Texas A&M, 1 ½ games ahead of Missouri, 2 games ahead of Tennessee and 2 ½ games H
Ole Miss had wiped out a 4-2 Auburn lead on Sikes Orvis two-run homer in the top of the eighth when Damek Tomscha came to bat with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the eighth. He hit a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence to give Auburn the last run it would need.
“I got ahead in the count,” Tomscha said. “He threw me a curveball down, so I figured he’d have to come with the fastball. I was able to get it kind of up in the wind. I knew I had hit it decent, but I didn’t know if it was going to get over. I got lucky, I guess.”
Dedrick got the final three outs, making a back-handed snag on a ball hit back through the box for the first out and a spectacular play to end it. But it took a lot to get there.
Ole Miss took a 2-0 lead in the first. Auburn answered with a run in the second to make it 2-1, and that’s the way it stayed until the seventh. The Tigers scored three runs on two hits. Cullen Wacker’s single off diving shortstop Austin Anderson scored Tomscha, who had singled to tie the game.
Pinch hitter Patrick Savage singled home another run, but not before some craziness. After Tanner Bailey’s first pitch to Savage was called a strike, Auburn coach John Pawlowski was thrown out of the game for arguing by home plate umpire Nelson Graham. Three pitches later, Savage lined a single to right to give Auburn a 3-2 lead. Garrett Cooper scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-2.
After Austin Bousfield led off the eighth by reaching on Auburn’s error, pitching coach Scott Foxhall replaced Trey Cochran-Gill with Dedrick, who had pitched three innings in Auburn’s victory Saturday night. After Dedrick retired the first hitter he faced, Sikes Orvis unleashed a homer to dead center that tied the game at 4, setting the stage for the finish.
Kelley kept Auburn in it by leaping at the bullpen fence to rob Orvis of a three-run homer in the third inning and doing the same thing in right-center to rob Austin Anderson of a solo homer in the seventh.
“I’ve never even done it once in a game,” a grinning Kelley said when it was over.
But, in practice, Kelley said he does it frequently in working with hitting coach Gabe Gross.
“He hits us balls and we have to rob them almost every day in practice,” Kelley said. “It’s something we work on.”
Auburn coach John Pawlowski, who was in his office at the finish, said defense was ultimately the difference.
“Hunter Kelley made two spectacular plays,” Pawlowski said. “Blake Austin, with the bases loaded, two outs and their best hitter up, picks a guy off second base. He throws another guy out on a hit and run. I thought our defense did a great job today.”
Pawlowski’s ejection ignited the crowd and the Auburn dugout.
“We all were pumped up in there,” Pawlowski said. “We had to settle down, but it got the momentum going a little bit.”
The Tigers, holding onto hope of making a regional, go to Florida for a three-game series next weekend. They play at Jacksonville State on Tuesday and at home against Samford on Wednesday.
Dedrick, who earned the save in Saturday’s 8-5 Auburn victory, was the winning pitcher to move to 4-2 on the season. Brett Huber took the loss for Ole Miss.
Tomscha led Auburn’s offense, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. Cooper was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Austin 2-for-4 with an RBI. In the final two games of the series, Austin was 6-for-8.