Auburn, Ala.—The Auburn Tigers (20-16) got back on the winning track Tuesday night at Plainsman Park as Coach John Pawlowski’s club pounded out 15 hits in a 7-4 victory over the Troy Trojans. Reliever Dillon Ortman got the win for the Tigers, allowing one earned run on three hits in four innings, while Slade Smith picked up his fourth save of the season.
At the plate Garrett Cooper led the way with three hits and two runs scored, but the big story was two hits from sophomore Bobby Andrews. Inserted back in the lineup for the first time since March 10 after struggling for much of the early season, he responded with an early triple to kick the offense into gear. Pawlowski said while his team missed several golden opportunities to break the game open, it was nice to get a win.
“We had some good at-bats at times and we hit into two double plays with the bases loaded,” Pawlowski said. “Our guys kept battling. It was good to see Bobby Andrews in the lineup. That’s one of the things we’ve been hoping for is getting that other element in there. We’ve been missing an element in our lineup and it’s that speed. He hits a triple and puts down a routine sac bunt and there’s no play at first base. We got some good things from Bobby in the lineup.”
On the mound Ortman was the story. After starter Rocky McCord allowed two runs on four hits in two innings, the sophomore came on to keep the Tigers in the hunt and allow his offense to make the comeback.
“I had planned to go as much as coach told me to,” Ortman said of his outing. “He kept me out there and I kept throwing good pitches. It felt good to get out there and keep the momentum in our dugout. It’s a big win for us today.
“This was a big game for us, coming off Vanderbilt and losing two out of three,” he added. “Just to get back in the winning momentum made it a big win for us today.”
Dillon Ortman got the win for the Tigers to improve to 1-1
The game didn’t start out well for the Tigers as McCord gave up a leadoff double to Jakob Nixon. After retiring the next two hitters on fly balls, Danny Collins’ double off the wall in left field quickly made it 1-0 Trojans. In the second the visitors added another run as Jake Harrell singled with two outs, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single from Jo-el Bennett.
Auburn started its comeback in the bottom of the second as Cooper singled and moved to second on a Cullen Wacker single. Following a Justin Bryant sacrifice bunt, Creede Simpson’s ground ball to second base scored Cooper to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.
Ortman came on in the third and kept the Trojans scoreless to allow his teammates to do more damage offensively in the bottom of the inning. With one out Dan Glevenyak singled and Andrews pushed him across with a triple to right field, his first of the season. A walk to Ryan Tella and an infield single by Cooper loaded the bases for Wacker.
Working a walk to score a run, Wacker’s at-bat put Auburn up 3-2 and brought Bryant to the plate. His single up the middle kept the Tigers rolling as Simpson came to the plate with a two-run lead. The senior was unable to break things open though as he hit into an inning-ending double play to finish the third.
With Ortman cruising on the mound the Tigers went back to work in the bottom of the fifth thanks to some help from Troy. Cooper started the rally with a one-out single, his second hit of the night. Off and running at the crack of Wacker’s bat, Cooper’s heads up base running on a single put runners on first and third for the Tigers with Bryant at the plate.
Facing a 1-2 count, Bryant hit a fly ball to center field that looked to be the second out of the inning. However a balk was called on the play, sending Cooper home and Wacker to second base. Continuing his good night, Bryant singled to left field to send Wacker to third. Boone Shear came up throwing for the Trojans on the play and send the ball all the way to the backstop behind home plate. The error allowed Wacker to score for the 6-2 Auburn lead.
The Tigers missed a golden opportunity to finish off Troy in the sixth as consecutive singles by Blake Austin, Glevenyak and Andrews loaded the bases with nobody out and the heart of the Auburn order coming to the plate. A Tella single to left field scored one and left the bases loaded, but a Cooper line out and a Wacker ground ball double play killed the rally with Auburn leading 7-2.
Ortman ran out of gas in the seventh as Bennett singled to start the inning and moved to second on a Bryant error at third. A walk to Nixon was the end of the line for the sophomore as Smith replaced him and promptly gave up a single to right field to load the bases with nobody out. Smith recovered to get the next two hitters and allow just one run in the process.
With runners on first and second, Smith walked Shear to load the bases and bring Chase Mathis to the plate. He appeared to get out of the inning with a ground ball to Simpson at second, but the senior booted it for an error. That allowed Nixon to score the second run of the inning and cut Auburn’s lead down to 7-4. A ground ball to Cooper ended the inning, but the Trojans had gotten back to within striking distance.
That’s as close as they would come however as Smith finished things off to secure the win and move Auburn to 8-1 in midweek games this season.
Auburn will have a chance to improve that as the Tigers return to action against Alabama A&M Wednesday night at Plainsman Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. and admission is free.
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