Auburn, Ala.—Missing out on opportunity after opportunity early in Saturday’s game against #8 LSU, the Auburn Tigers didn’t waste their chance in the bottom of the 10th inning as Dan Glevenyak’s fly ball scored Cullen Wacker from third for the winning run in the 3-2 victory. After getting double plays to cut down scoring opportunities for LSU in both the ninth and 10th innings, Auburn used a pair of walks and a sacrifice bunt to set up the game-winning fly ball.
With the win Auburn improves to 15-8 on the season and 4-1 in SEC play while LSU falls to 17-6 overall and 2-3 in league action. The victory gives Auburn the series win over LSU for the third consecutive season, the first time to accomplish that feat since doing so from 1988-1990.
“They just found a way to persevere today,” Auburn Coach John Pawlowski said. “It wasn’t easy. Their pitcher was doing a great job and we just found a way. This team just felt like if we get it to extra innings or late in the game then we would find a way to win. Dan Glevenyak had struggled a little bit today and comes up with a sacrifice fly. There were some real positive things in a real tough situation.”
In a game where the two teams combined to leave 19 runners on base, it was the runners not left that made the difference for Auburn as double plays in the last two innings kept LSU off the board and kept the home team in the game until they could win it at the end. For relief pitcher Slade Smith it’s what makes it fun to be a pitcher for this Auburn team.
“We’ll take them any way them come,” Smith said. “I can’t say enough about our starting pitching (Will Kendall). He got us deep in the game. When we get called on in the bullpen we just have to come out and execute pitches and let the offense do what they do.
“They (the double plays) are huge,” he added. “I speak for Justin Bryant as well, we try not to get ahead of ourselves. You just have to stay calm and execute pitches like the coaches have taught us. We were able to get ground balls and let the middle infield do their job.”
Tied at two in the top of the 10th, Auburn was looking to finish things off and got just what it was looking for with a walk to Wacker by reliever Joey Bourgeois. A sacrifice bunt by Garrett Cooper moved the Auburn senior to second base and LSU decided to walk Bryant to set up the force and face Glevenyak. Things changed dramatically however when a wild pitch from new pitcher Nick Goody put both runners in scoring position with just one out. Facing the hard-throwing right-hander, Glevenyak lifted a fly ball into right field to easily score Wacker and set off a mob scene on the infield of Plainsman Park.
“I came up and there was a guy on second and third,” Glevenyak said. “I was just looking for a ball up in the zone I could handle, a fastball in particular, and I got it. I put a good swing on it and drove it into right field and got the run in.
“I was rounding first to see if he was going to catch it first,” he added. “He caught it and threw it and I knew whoever was on third was going to make it home. I was exciting.”
Wacker slides in win the winning run.
Smith got the win on the mound for Auburn, allowing two hits and no runs in two/thirds of an inning in relief. Kendall pitched well for the Tigers, giving up a pair of runs on six hits in six innings. Relievers Jay Wade, Justin Bryant and Cory Luckie combined to allow just three hits and no runs in three and one/third innings of relief before giving way to Smith.
At the plate Creede Simpson had three hits for Auburn while Ryan Tella and Garrett Cooper added two hits each.
Auburn wasted little time getting on the board against LSU starter Ryan Eades who came into the game 4-1 with a 1.95 ERA. Leading off the game with a walk, Jay Gonzalez moved to second on an infield single by Simpson. Playing small ball, Tella bunted both runners into scoring position where Wacker delivered a fly ball to score Gonzalez.
Leading 1-0 but shaky through the first two innings, Kendall wouldn’t be as fortunate in the third as Tyler Hanover led off with a single and JaCoby Jones doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out. A sacrifice bunt by Chris Sciambra scored Hanover from second to tie the game and moments later Mason Katz put LSU on top with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Auburn would have its chances in both the third and fourth innings with a pair of runners on, but failed to score in either. The second game after a single by Cooper and a walk to Bryant put a pair of runners on with nobody out. However strikeouts by Glevenyak and Caleb Bowen and a groundout by Zach Alvord brought the inning to a close with Auburn still down 2-1.
Glevenyak came up big for the Tigers in the 10th win his sacrifice fly.
Once again the homestanding Tigers threatened in the fifth with a two-out double from Tella and a walk to Wacker bringing Cooper to the plate, but his ground ball kept the deficit at one. Through five innings Auburn had stranded seven runners and still trailed LSU by a run.
With the score the same in the top of the eighth LSU threatened to break the game open against Wade. After getting the leadoff man, the sophomore gave up a double to Sciambra down the left field line. After a Katz ground ball a wild pitch moved the runner to third with Rhymes at the plate. A walk to the SEC’s leading hitter meant Wade had to face pinch hitter Grant Dozar with runners on the corners and two outs. Dozar gave the ball a ride, but Gonzalez caught the ball on the warning track in right field to end the LSU threat.
Struggling to get anything going, Auburn finally broke through in the eighth inning as Tella led off with a single to right field. Getting a balk to move to second and a wild pitch to advance to third, Tella was still standing there with one out as Cooper came to the plate. Getting down 0-2, the first baseman lined a single to right field to score Tella and tie the game for Auburn.
LSU had another great chance in the ninth as a one-out single from Austin Nola and a bunt single by Alex Edward put runners on for Hanover. A thorn in Auburn’s side, Hanover walked to load the bases for the top of the order and Jones. Falling behind 3-0, Bryant got a sharp ground ball to Simpson at second base. That started a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and keep it tied.
In the bottom of the ninth Auburn had a shot to win it as Simpson doubled with two outs off LSU reliever Nick Rumbelow to bring Tella to the plate. Mr. Clutch this season, Tella lined one that looked like it would be the game winner but a diving grab by Katz sent this one to extra innings.
LSU again had a pair of runners on in the 10th and it ended in the same result as the last inning as Smith got Grant Dozar to hit into another 4-6-3 double play, setting up Auburn’s dramatic win in the bottom of the inning to take the series.
Auburn will send freshman Daniel Koger (1-1, 2.05 ERA) to the mound against LSU’s Aaron Nola (3-1, 3.12) on Sunday at 1 p.m. looking for the sweep. The last time Auburn swept LSU was 1988 and the last time at home was 1982.
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