SEC Tournament: Auburn Defeats Kentucky on Extra Inning Walk-off SingleMay 23, 2018
#7 Auburn (38-19, 15-15) opened their stay in Hoover by defeating #10 Kentucky in the “single-elimination” portion of the SEC Baseball Tournament bracket, 4-3. Auburn advances to face #2 Ole Miss on Wednesday afternoon at 1 P.M. approximately
The Canadian Crusher does it again.
Freshman Edouard Julien stepped up to the plate in the 11th inning of Auburn’s SEC Tournament opener looking to pick up his first hit after failing in his first four attempts, including striking out three times. With two on base and one out, Julien sent a blooper to left field, scoring pinch runner Cade Evans from 2nd base, and giving Auburn the 4-3 win.
For Julien, who was one of four Tigers to make the All-SEC Freshman squad, had a clear mind once he entered the batter’s box.
“Coach Gross told me to focus on this at-bat and forget everything that’s happened,” said Julien after the game. “I just wanted to put the ball in play, anything that could’ve helped the team win. I’m glad I was able to do that. I have no words for it. It’s unbelievable right now. It’s probably the biggest hit I’ve had in my life and I’m happy I did it for the team.”
Both teams swapped dingers in the first inning. Kentucky’s Kole Cottam hit a solo shot off of Auburn starter Jack Owen with one down in the opening stanza to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead out of the gate. The lead did not last for long, as Will Holland led off the game with a solo shot of his own. Holland, who was named SEC Player of the Week after going 10-for-14 with six RBI in the LSU series, hit his third home run in four games over the left field wall to tie the game at 1-1.
Auburn grabbed the lead in the bottom of the 3rd inning on two key hits from Steven Williams and Brett Wright. Holland walked, and picked up a stolen base in the inning to give Williams a runner in scoring position once he arrived at the plate. Williams singled to right field to score Holland and he would come in to score one at-bat later on a double from Wright, giving Auburn the 3-1 lead over the Wildcats.
Kentucky elected to remove starting pitcher Daniel Harper for Friday ace Sean Hjelle following the Wright RBI double, which seemed to be a head-scratching decision considering that he tossed 123 pitches over six innings in an 8-1 loss to Vanderbilt last Thursday. The move seemed to work well for the Wildcats, as he was able to quiet the Tiger bats over 7.1 innings of relief, striking out nine batters while allowing only four hits.
Auburn also went to their bullpen early and chose Davis Daniel with two down in the 3rd inning. Daniel had one of the better outings of his season, lasting 5.1 innings in relief and struck out six Wildcats while allowing two runs. In a situation where you want to preserve pitching for your hopeful six-day stay in Hoover, Daniel answered the call by limiting the usage of the bullpen. If Auburn finds themselves deep in the tournament, I would like to see Daniel repeat this performance.
Kentucky cut the lead to one run in the 5th inning on a Luke Becker groundout that scored Tristan Pompey from 3rd base. The Tigers looked to close out the game by taking their lead to the 9th inning, that was until Ryan Shinn led off the inning with a double. Daniel’s day was finished after that, leading the way for Cody Greenhill to save the game. Greenhill struck out the first batter he faced but allowed an RBI double to Cottam to score the pinch runner, Alex Rodriguez, which tied the game at 3-3 and sent the game to extra innings.
The 10th inning was mostly quiet for both teams, and Greenhill sat down the Wildcats 1-2-3 in the top of the 11th, setting up Auburn for an exciting bottom-half.
Hjelle was lifted, and his replacement Zach Thompson came out of the gates firing. He struck out Williams on four pitches to open the inning, but that would be the only time that the Tigers would falter in the inning. Wright singled with one out and was replaced with Cade Evans on the basepaths. Brendan Venter walked to put two runners on for Julien. Julien showed patience by sitting on six pitches before sending the 3-2 pitch to left field, deep enough to score Evans from 2nd base, and giving Auburn the win.
Greenhill (4-2) earned the win on the mound after turning in 3.0 innings of work, striking out two batters and allowing three hits. Jack Owen allowed an earned run in 2.2 innings in the start.
Brett Wright, Jay Estes, and Josh Anthony each had two hits; Julien, Wright, Williams, and Julien had one RBI each.
The Tigers will be back at it tomorrow afternoon. #7 Auburn faces #2 Ole Miss tomorrow at approximately 1 P.M. central time in Hoover. Tanner Burns will get the ball for the Tigers, he will face Ryan Rolison of Ole Miss.
Ole Miss swept Auburn in Oxford May 10-12.
Tomorrow’s matchup will be the second for both pitchers against their opponent. Rolison picked up the win on the mound for the Rebels on May 10. He allowed two earned runs and five hits in 6.1 innings of work against the Tigers. Burns was chased early in his start against Ole Miss on May 12 only lasting 1.2 innings, allowing three earned runs and walking three batters.
You can watch tomorrow’s game live on SEC Network, or listen in your car or office on the Auburn Sports Network.