Auburn, AL – It was an exciting game for college baseball fans, and a heart wrenching game for fans of the Auburn or Clemson Tigers. Auburn came out on top of the slugfest, winning the teams second matchup of the regional, 11-10. The two Tiger teams combined to score the 21 runs on 32 hits in just nine innings of regulation play. The hits included four home runs, three by Auburn batters. The game also saw two Auburn pitchers and four Clemson hurlers take the mound.
The Tigers from Auburn scored first in the game, touching up Will Lamb for two runs on two hits in the first inning of play when Brian Fletcher doubled in Trent Mummey and Hunter Morris followed that up with a single that then scored Fletcher from second. Lamb would get out of the inning without suffering anymore damage when he struck out Tony Caldwell looking and Clemson catcher Spencer Kieboom threw out Morris stealing second base.
After going scoreless in the bottom of the first and second and holding Auburn scoreless in the second and third innings, the Tigers would finally dent the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. Kieboom and Addison Johnson both grounded out to second base before Mike Freeman would reach on an error. Jeff Schaus followed that up with a walk, and Kyle Parker would then hit a two out double to left field, scoring Freeman from third and moving Schaus over to take that spot. The inning would end on a Brad Miller pop out to right field, but the Tigers had gotten back on and trailed 2-1 after the inning.
Things remained quiet for both teams through inning number four on the scoreboard, but Auburn was able to knock out Clemson starter Will Lamb in the inning. Freshman right hander Jonathan Meyer entered the game with two outs and runners on first and second. Meyer got out of the inning by striking out J Fradejas and leaving those two runners stranded.
In the top of the fifth, Meyer didn’t fare so well. After giving up a lead-off double to Mummey, Meyer then gave up a one out, two run homer to Fletcher. Morris then singled through the right side and Caldwell struck out swinging. The next batter up, Kevin Patterson doubled to left center, scoring Morris from first base. The Tigers then made another pitching change, bringing in sophomore righty David Haselden. Haselden retired the only batter he faced in the inning on a ground out to second base. At the end of the top of the fifth, Auburn was up 5-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Clemson Tigers finally got some offense going again, scoring seven runs on seven hits. Addison Johnson got things started with a lead-off single to left field. Mike Freeman followed that up with another single, this one to right field, which moved Johnson all the way around to third. Next up, Jeff Schaus singled through the right side, pushing Freeman to second and scoring Johnson, leaving runners on first and second with no outs for Kyle Parker. Parker reached first on a fielder’s choice, but Schaus was retired at second base. Now with Parker on first and Freeman on third, Brad Miller doubled to right-center field, scoring both runners.
After Auburn made a pitching change, bringing in Austin Hubbard, John Hinson would take his first pitch of the game over the right field wall for the two run homer, his 15th of the season. Richie Shaffer then reached first on a fielding error by the short stop before Wilson Boyd struck out swinging. Spencer Kieboom then blasted a double to left-center field, bringing Shaffer home for an unearned run, Clemson’s sixth run of the inning.
The next batter up, Johnson, singled through the right side, scoring Kieboom for another unearned run in the inning, run number seven in the fifth for Clemson. Johnson would steal second base, and Freeman would then be hit by a pitch putting runners on first and second for the Tigers with two outs, but Jeff Schaus flied out to right field to end the inning. Clemson had done some major damage though, and now led it 8-5 after five.
Auburn would come right back in the top of the sixth though with one run on a solo home run by Fradejas. That would be all Auburn could manage in the inning though and Clemson still led 8-6 heading to the bottom half of the inning. Clemson couldn’t plate any runs in the inning, and headed to the top of the seventh still up by just two runs.
In the top of the seventh Auburn closed the gap some more and then tied it up at eight runs apiece. After Fletcher grounded out to start the inning, Morris singled through the right side. Tony Caldwell then lined out to left field before Auburn brought pinch hitter Kevin Patterson, who was in at DH, to the plate. Patterson hit a double down the left field line advancing Morris to third and ending the day for Clemson pitcher Haselden.
Clemson’s third pitcher of the night, senior righty Tomas Cruz, would hit the first batter he faced with a pitch before Fradejas singled up the middle scoring Morris and Patterson. Cruz got the next Auburn batter to ground out to third, ending the inning and threat, but not before things were all knotted up at eight runs apiece.
Clemson came right back in the bottom of the inning and answered Auburn’s rally. Wilson Boyd started it off with a walk and was pushed to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kieboom. After Johnson struck out swinging for out number two, Freeman doubled down the right field line, scoring Boyd from second base. Schaus then flied out to end the inning, but the Tigers from Clemson had gained the lead again at 9-8.
Tomas Cruz stayed in the game for the next three two innings, and that looked like it would work out for Clemson until the ninth inning. In that inning, Cruz retired the first two batters he faced, but then gave up a walk to J Bryant, who would come out in favor of pinch runner J Hargett. The next batter up, Fradejas, then singled to center field pushing the pinch runner to third, and setting C Simpson up with runners on first and third, with two outs and the chance to be a hero. Simpson delivered for Auburn, and blasted a three run shot to left-center field, giving his team an 11-9 lead. Cruz retired the next batter on a strikeout.
In the bottom of the ninth, Clemson had one more chance to tie it up or take the lead. Lead off hitter Richie Shaffer singled through the left side and then moved to second on a blooper by Wilson Boyd. With runners on first and second and no outs, Spencer Kieboom was called upon to move the runners over with a bunt. Kieboom layed down a perfect bunt to the third baseman and moved the runners up 90 feet apiece to put them at second and third with one out and Addison Johnson coming to bat.
In that at bat, Shaffer scored on a 1-2 wild pitch and Boyd moved to third. With the score now 11-10 and a runner on third, Johnson grounded out to the first baseman unassisted, bringing Mike Freeman to bat with two outs and a runner on third. Freeman would then walk bringing Jeff Schaus to the plate with runners on first and third and two outs. Schaus would pop out to second base though, and end the threat and the game.
John Hinson went three-for-five in the game with one home run, and scored three runs, while Mike Freeman was three-for-four with two runs scored for Clemson.
Auburn pitcher Austin Hubbard earned the win, going four and two-thirds innings, giving up eight hits and three earned runs while striking out three of the 25 batters he faced.
Tomas Cruz suffered the loss for Clemson, going two and one-third innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits and two walks and striking out two of the 14 batters he faced.
These same two teams will face off in a game on Monday night at 7:00 EST that will decide who makes it to the next round of post-season NCAA play, a Super Regional.