May 6, 2011
AUBURN, ALA.---- Tony Caldwell’s two run single in the 11th gave the Tigers a 4-3 walk-off win over Georgia Friday in front of a crowd of 3,128 at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers (24-21, 10-12 SEC) took a 1-0 lead in the second off sophomore left-hander Alex Wood. Caldwell (4-for-5, 2 RBI) smacked a leadoff double off the wall in left center. Third baseman Wes Gilmer moved him to third with a groundout to Levi Hyams at second base and first baseman Kevin Patterson brought Caldwell home with another bounce out to second. Hyams made a diving stop on a grounder by centerfielder Creede Simpson to end the frame.
Georgia (24-22, 13-9 SEC) tied the game in the third as Bulldog freshmen Conor Welton and Brandon Stephens tried to get the offense going. Welton lined a single up the middle and Stephens followed with an RBI-double off the left center wall. Georgia looked for more but Auburn starter Jon Luke Jacobs escaped further trouble by retiring the next three Bulldogs. Third baseman Curt Powell popped up a bunt attempt, Hyams grounded out to first and right fielder Peter Verdin struck out.
Sophomore designated hitter Brett DeLoach launched his fourth home run of the season, a two-out solo shot to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead in the fourth. All four of DeLoach’s home runs this year have come in SEC action.
Auburn threatened in the sixth, putting two on with one out on base hits by Casey McElroy and Caldwell. Gilmer lined a single to left and McElroy attempted to score but was thrown out by Zach Cone who collected his fourth assist of the year. However, Patterson tied the contest with a high chopper to second that bounced off Hester’s glove as he cut in front of Hyams and the ball ended up in shallow centerfield. It allowed Caldwell to score as Hester was charged with an error on the play. Then, Simpson drilled a ball to deep center that Welton tracked down at the wall to send it to the seventh tied up at 2-all.
With one out in the eighth, Farmer crushed a double high off the “green monster” in left field. The Tigers park features a 30-foot wall in left center and Farmer missed a home run by a couple of feet. It chased Jacobs as the Tigers turned to freshman right-hander Dillon Ortman to face Cone. Jacobs struck out a career-high nine, going 7.1 innings and allowing just two runs on seven hits. Ortman fell behind Cone 2-0 and then battled back to strike him out to bring up DeLoach. He ran the count full to DeLoach and then struck him out looking. Georgia went to its bullpen in the seventh, bringing in sophomore left-hander Blake Dieterich. Wood gave the Bulldogs seven innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
With one out, Caldwell reached on an infield single that bounced over the mound and Dieterich. Then, Gilmer was hit by a pitch and Patterson came to the plate. Dieterich struck him out on four pitches and that brought up Simpson who drew a walk to load the bases for Brooks Beisner. On a 2-1 pitch, Beisner popped out to Hester in foul territory to keep it a tie ballgame.
In the ninth, Georgia got a two-out, pinch-hit double from junior Chase Davidson. Junior Lance Martin came in to pinch-run as May strode to the plate looking to give the Bulldogs a lead. On a 3-1 pitch, Ortman got May to pop out. Auburn had a chance to win it in the ninth, but the Bulldogs gunned down the second Tiger runner at home on the night to force extra innings. The trouble started with a two-out walk to Gamache. Pinch-runner Bobby Andrews came in and McElroy smashed a ball to the gap in right center. Verdin tracked it down and relayed it to Hyams who fired home to Joey Delmonico who applied the tag.
Ortman retired the Bulldogs in the 10th and Georgia looked to redshirt sophomore right-hander Tyler Maloof in relief of Dieterich who pitched two innings and gave up just two hits with two walks and one strikeout. Caldwell reached on a leadoff walk and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gilmer. Patterson was intentionally walked to bring up Simpson. He flied out to left for the second out and Auburn went to its bench in pinch-hitter Cullen Wacker. On a 3-1 pitch, Wacker grounded out to second to send it to the 11th.
Ortman struck out Cone and DeLoach to start the frame and then Hester launched a 2-2 pitch over the green monster in left to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 advantage. It was Hester’s fifth blast of the year including his third in league play. Auburn responded with a leadoff single by Hargett who went to third when Justin Fradejas lined a single to center. The Tigers sent up pinch-hitter Jay Gonzalez, and he drew a walk to load the bases for McElory. Maloof struck him out and Caldwell was next up. On a 1-0 pitch, he lined a two-run single for a 4-3 walk-off victory. Ortman improved to 1-1 while Maloof fell to 1-1.
“This team has fought hard all year, and then to come out on Friday with seven walks and our lineup looked like it was the first game of the year,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We did a few things well, Alex Wood gave us a nice start, we threw out two guys at the plate, but we got beat by their cleanup hitter, and we struck out 14 times. Offensively, we need to step up, and we’re going to have to lean on Michael (Palazzone) one more time to even a series after losing on Friday. We have to pitch better, and we have to hit better.”
The series continues Saturday with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. EDT. The Bulldogs will start junior right-hander Palazzone (8-1, 2.14 ERA) while the Tigers counter with junior right-hander Derek Varnadore (4-2, 3.92 ERA).