AUBURN -- Tony Caldwell’s bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 11th inning drove home two to give Auburn a dramatic 4-3 win over Georgia Friday night at Plainsman Park.
Caldwell, who had four hits on the night, drove a 1-0 pitch from Georgia closer Tyler Maloof to right field to score Justin Hargett and Justin Fradejas. Maloof came into the game with a 1-0 record and NCAA-best 15 saves.
“Everyone did their job and we came through. I’m happy to come through in the clutch and get the big knock,” Caldwell said.
The win, Auburn’s first Friday night SEC home win in nearly a year, moved the Tigers to 24-21 overall and 10-12 in the SEC and in a tie with Alabama for second in the SEC West, 1.5 games behind Arkansas, which has two wins over Florida this weekend.
“it’s a huge win,” Caldwell said. “It’s awesome to come out and get a W on Friday night and actually get to enjoy the fireworks.”
Georgia took the lead in the top of the 11th on a two-out, solo homerun by Jonathan Hester off Dillon Ortman. But it was Ortman’s only mistake in 3.2 innings out of the bullpen as he earned his first college win.
Jon Luke Jacobs had an excellent start for the Tigers allowing two runs on seven hits in 7.1 innings with nine strikeouts, matching his career-high strikeouts from a week ago in a 2-1 loss at South Carolina.
Jacobs was lifted after giving up a one-out double to Kyle Farmer in the eighth but Ortman struck out the next two Bulldogs to keep the game tied 2-2.
“You can’t say enough about Jon Luke Jacobs, and Dillon Ortman came in and had two huge strikeouts and pitched extremely well,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “It was a good win for our team. Emotionally, they stayed with it and great to find a way to win a ballgame like that.”
It was a frustrating night for Auburn’s hitters through the first 10 innings as they left 12 runners on base and had two runners thrown out at the plate.
“I thought our team battled today,” Pawlowski said. “They really did. We had some missed opportunities but give Georgia credit. They made the pitches and made the plays when they needed to.”
Georgia starter Alex Wood had a strong outing giving up two runs, one earned, in seven innings with two strikeouts. Hester led the Bulldogs with two hits.
Auburn and Georgia will resume the 3-game series Saturday at 3 pm CT. Auburn junior right-hander Derek Varnadore (4-2, 3.92 ERA) will face Georgia junior right-hander Michael Palazzone (8-1, 2.14).