Gainesville, Fla.—Auburn rebounded from a disappointing Saturday night loss with one of its best games of the season on Sunday as Justin Camp got into the fifth inning in his first collegiate start and the Tigers added home runs from Ryan Tella and Damek Tomscha in a 4-1 win over the Florida Gators.
The victory gave Coach John Pawlowski’s club the series over Florida in Gainesville for the first time since 2006 and it makes six wins in seven games for the Tigers overall.
Currently 31-20 overall and 11-16 in SEC play, Auburn is 11-10 in league action since being swept by Vanderbilt and LSU to open the conference schedule.
Fighting back on Sunday to get the win behind strong pitching from Camp and relievers Chase Williamson and Terrance Dedrick, Pawlowski said the weekend showed the resiliency of his team.
“Today was as big of a day as we’ve had all year to respond the way we did,” Pawlowski said. “We had a tough one last night and we tried to put that behind us. To come out and have the will to win and the passion and to play as hard as they did to come out on the winning end was a testament to this team. I’m really proud of this team today.”
Led at the plate by Blake Austin’s three hits, Auburn got a clutch three-run homer from Tella with two outs in the seventh inning to break open a 1-0 Tigers’ lead. That proved to the game winner for a team that continues to play tough baseball at the end of the 2013 season.
“I was just trying to do something,” Tella said. “I talked to Gabe (Gross) and the first pitch I was going to bunt, but it didn’t work out too well. The second and third pitches were cutters up in the zone. The next pitch was a fastball over the middle of the plate and I was able to put a good swing on it and score some runs.”
Scoreless through four innings, Auburn finally got some offense going in the fifth with one swing of the bat from Tomscha. Showing power with four home runs in the last two weeks, the junior college transfer led off the inning with a long home run. It was his seventh of the year and put the Tigers up 1-0 with Camp still on the mound.
Allowing a pair of singles with one out in the fifth, Camp turned things over to Williamson and the reliever did his job by getting a ground ball to Dan Glevenyak at shortstop. He flipped to Jordan Ebert to start the 6-4-3 double play to get out of the jam.
Getting a pair of runners on base in the sixth inning thanks to a hit-by-pitch and a two-out single from Ebert, Auburn finally saw the Tella that the Tigers have been missing in recent weeks. Striking out earlier in the game with the bases loaded after fouling off six pitches, Tella slammed his second home run of the season over the right field fence to make it 4-0 Auburn.
In the eighth inning Florida (28-25, 13-14) finally got on the scoreboard against the Tigers as Mark Turgeon doubled home leadoff man Richie Martin after he reached on an infield single. That was all for Williamson as Dedrick came on to try to close out the win and the series for Auburn.
Walking Taylor Gushue to bring the tying run to the plate with nobody out, Dedrick faced right fielder Justin Shafer and needed an out in the worst way. After getting a fly ball for out number one, Dedrick walked Zack Powers to load the bases for Vickash Ramjit. Following a four-pitch walk, the junior came back to strike out Ramjit on just three pitches for the second out.
That brought Josh Tobias to the plate. The thorn in Auburn’s side from Saturday night when his three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning tied the game, Tobias hit a routine ground ball to Ebert at second. His flip to Glevenyak on the bag at second killed the Florida rally and kept Auburn’s lead at three.
Dedrick closed things out with a perfect ninth inning for his eighth save of the season, and second of the series, as the Tigers secured their fourth series win of the SEC season.
Garrett Cooper added two hits, extending his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest since for the Tigers since Casey McElroy hit in 15 consecutive games from May 1 to May 26 during the 2011 season.
Auburn returns home to face Jacksonville State on Tuesday night before hosting Arkansas Thursday-Saturday to close out the regular season.