Ortman And Thompson Combine To Stem The Tide

Dillon Ortman

Senior Dillon Ortman and freshman Keegan Thompson combined for the Auburn victory as the Tigers defeated #9 Alabama 2-1 on Friday night.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--With their backs against the wall, the Auburn Tigers got a spirited outing from starter Dillon Ortman (6-2) and used freshman sensation Keegan Thompson out of the bullpen in a 2-1 win over No. 9 Alabama. Holding a one-run lead in the eighth, Thompson struck out five Alabama hitters in the final two innings to earn his first career save. With the win Auburn improves to 21-14 overall and 6-7 in SEC play while Alabama falls to 22-11 and 8-5 in league play.

On a night when Auburn only managed four hits and left the bases loaded three times, the Tigers found a way to get the job done thanks to the work on the mound from Ortman and Thompson. While it was a good first step for the weekend, Golloway said it's not good enough to get this team where it needs to be moving forward.

"We're just a much better team that what we played tonight," Golloway said. "I know it's a tough environment and everything; Keegan did a terrific job and we defended very well. We pitched it really well. We'll come back tomorrow and we'll try to get the series."

The star of the game for the Tigers was Ortman. Pitching seven innings and allowing just a run on five hits and striking out two on 92 pitches, the senior from Huntsville battled all night long and put Auburn in a position to get the Friday night win once again.

"He was terrific," Golloway said of Ortman. "I told them down the line that as far as consistency we may very well have the best Friday night guy in the league. There might be somebody that will out-pitch him on a given night, but consistently he just goes out and does his thing. He doesn't try to do too much. He just pounds the zone and pitches with courage. He's really special and I told him tonight that I was really proud of him. He pitches with a sense of urgency every time and we had to play tonight with a sense of urgency.

The game came down to the final two innings and Auburn holding a 2-1 advantage over the Crimson Tide. Still on for the Tigers to start the eighth inning, Ortman allowed a leadoff double to Georgie Salem to put the tying run on second base for Alabama. With his full bullpen at his disposal, Golloway decided to go with Thompson in that situation because of his ability to get strikeouts. It proved to be the right move as he struck out Mikey White before a Ben Moore groundout moved Salem to third with two outs. Facing Kyle Overstreet, Thompson finished off the winning with another strikeout to keep the Tigers in the lead.

Having already left the bases loaded twice in the game, Auburn again loaded the bases in the ninth following an error on a Connor Short ground ball, a walk to Damon Haecker, and the fourth hit-by-pitch for Dan Glevenyak on the night. With the top of the order at the plate and the chance to put some insurance runs on the board, Jordan Ebert struck out for the fourth time in the game before an Anfernee Grier fly ball ended the threat for the Tigers.

Coming back out in the ninth, Thompson struck out the first two hitters in the ninth to bring Chance Vincent to the plate. Getting ahead quickly, Thompson had to battle as Vincent fouled off four pitches before swinging and missing at strike three. Instead of ending the game however Vincent reached first on a wild pitch to keep Alabama alive. A Will Haynie single moved Vincent to second with the tying run, but Thompson got Hunter Webb on a flyout to end the game and secure the victory.

"It was a little different," Thompson said of pitching in relief. "My adrenaline was pumping coming in. I was kind of shaking a little bit on the mound at first, but I just had to go out there and get it done for Dillon. He pitched his butt off out there tonight. I was trying to get him the win."

Auburn got the offense going early off Alabama starter Spencer Turnbull with a pair of runs in the second inning. With one out senior catcher Blake Austin walked to give the Tigers some life. Up next, freshman Daniel Robert singled on a hit-and-run to move Austin around to third and bring Short to the plate. Getting a pitch to handle, Short lifted a fly ball into center field that was deep enough to score Austin and put the Tigers on the board.

With a runner on first, Haecker singled to bring Glevenyak to the plate. Back in the lineup after missing Tuesday night's win, Glevenyak was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That brought Auburn's leading hitter to the plate in Ebert. Pulling a ground ball to the left side deep into the hole, the sophomore reached on an infield single to allow Robert to score for a 2-0 Auburn lead.

In the fourth the Tigers had a chance to break the game open following a walk to Robert, a one-out single from Haecker and Glevenyak getting hit by a pitch once again. With the top of the order up for Auburn and the bases loaded things looked good for the Tigers, but strikeouts by Ebert and Grier killed the rally and gave Alabama the momentum it needed.

With one out Kyle Overstreet singled to start things for the Crimson Tide and when Wade Wass followed with a single of his own the Crimson Tide was in business. Facing leading hitter Austen Smith, Ortman hit the power hitter to load the bases with one out. Coming through with a single, Vincent put Alabama on the board to bring Haynie to the plate. Needing something big from his defense, Ortman got just that as a ground ball to Haecker started an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to keep Auburn in front on the way to the win.

Auburn will try to win its second road series of the year when the Tigers face off against Alabama at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Tigers are listed as TBA on the mound with Michael O'Neal and Justin Camp the two most likely candidates to get the start.

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