TUSCALOOSA - Auburn missed turning a game-ending double play by inches, then Taylor Dugas hit the first pitch he saw from Slade Smith for a walkoff home run as Alabama beat Auburn 4-3 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday to clinch its Southeastern Conference series of the season.
Slade Smith took the loss for Auburn
It was a devastating loss for Auburn, which came into the series tied for first in the SEC West. Alabama had won just one SEC game. But the Tide won 10-6 on Friday and then pulled out Saturday's victory in dramatic fashion.
Auburn fell to 17-13 overall and 6-5 in the SEC. Alabama improved to 12-19 and 3-8.
“When we have opportunities in close you have to find a way to scratch across a run," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "Unfortunately we were not able to do that and consequently we couldn’t finish this thing off. I thought we pitched very well except for the last pitch, obviously. Slade left that ball up.”
Smith took over in the fifth inning when starter Will Kendall had to leave the game a strained elbow. Smith was one out from finishing it.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Smith walked pinch-hitter Cameron Carlisle. It seemed Auburn had escaped when Hunter Gregory hit a bouncer back to Smith. But Smith hesitated before going to second and Gregory beat Dan Glevenyak's throw to first on a bang-bang play.
Smith left his first pitch to Dugas high in the strike zone and Dugas hit it out.
Auburn took a 1-0 lead in the third when Zach Alvord singled and scored on a Caleb Bowen double on a hit-and-run.
Alabama tied it in the fourth when Jared Reeves reached on a throwing error by third baseman Justin Bryant and scored on Jon Kelton's two-out single three batters later.
Auburn then went up 3-1 in the sixth when Creede Simpson walked, went to second on a Ryan Tella single and scored when Alabama third baseman James Tullidge scored threw wildly on a sacrifice bunt. Bryant put down a squeeze bunt to score Tella.
Alabama narrowed the margin to 3-2 in the seventh when Kelton walked and scored from second on a Gregory single.
Auburn had an insurance run on second base in the top of the ninth, but Glevenyak was picked off second by Alabama catcher Brett Booth catcher. Another opportunity was lost in the third inning when Bowen was easily thrown out at the plate trying to score on a grounder to third.
Auburn will send Daniel Koger (2-1) to the mound on Sunday at 1 p.m. to try to salvage the final game of the series.
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