TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - With two outs in the ninth inning, Casey Hughston blasted a first-pitch RBI double to deep right to lift the ninth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Auburn Tigers in a Sunday Southeastern Conference matchup at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
With the series win, Alabama closed out the weekend 24-11 overall and 10-5 in conference play, while Auburn falls to 21-16 overall with a 6-9 conference mark. At the midway point of the SEC schedule, the Crimson Tide is in sole possession of first place in the conference standings.
"I'm just really proud of our team," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Coming from the game against UAB in a 2-1 loss and the 2-1 loss on Friday, I feel like to respond last night with the win and to walk-off today to win was really big for our team. [Jon] Keller came out and did a good job and gave us a good solid six innings. [Ray] Castillo gave us one and [Thomas] Burrows was huge there at the end getting a couple of zeroes to give us a chance."
With neither team able to produce a run over the previous five innings, the Tide came through with the only two extra base hits of the game in the ninth. After Ben Moore flirted with a walk-off home run, Wade Wass doubled to right field to get into scoring position. After Colton Freeman entered as a pinch runner, Hughston belted the first pitch he saw off Keegan Thompson to plate Freeman for the win in the game and the series.
"There at the end Ben [Moore] hits one right on the screws and the wind eats it up," Gaspard said. "Then Wade [Wass] gets the double and [Casey] Hughston gets the big hit to walk it off. That's what has to happen, you have to find ways to do it, different guys have to step up and that's what we're getting right now."
Hughston was 3-for-5 with a pair of singles and the walk-off RBI double. Georgie Salem tallied three singles with an RBI and a run scored. Wass and Mikey White also posted two-hit performances in Alabama's 18th game of the season with 10 or more hits, as the Tide finished the day with 12 hits.
After earning the save in last night's 4-1 win over the Tigers, Thomas Burrows (4-1) earned the victory on Sunday after limiting the Tigers to one hit with two strikeouts in two scoreless innings. In his fourth "quality start" of the season, Jon Keller did not factor into the decision after striking out five in six innings, while surrendering three runs on 10 hits and two walks. In one scoreless relief inning, Ray Castillo held the Tigers to a hit and a walk.
Keegan Thompson (5-2) suffered the loss in 2.2 innings of relief for Auburn, after allowing the winning run and three hits with three strikeouts. Starter Terrance Dedrick was lifted after two innings, after allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks. Trey Wingenter blanked Alabama over the next four frames, allowing four hits and a walk with four strikeouts, before giving way to Thompson in the seventh inning.
After back-to-back singles from White and Salem to start the game, Alabama got a sacrifice bunt from Moore to advance the runners and a Wass groundout to third to bring White across for the first run of the game. Hughston followed with a high-bouncing single to second, and a throwing error allowing Salem to score, making the score 2-0 Alabama after one inning. Alabama tacked on another in the second, when Daniel Cucjen, who singled and stole second, scored and a Salem single.
In a three-run third, Auburn got three straight singles from J.J. Shaffer, Damon Haecker and Damek Tomscha, but Salem gunned down Shaffer trying to reach home on Tomscha's single. After a double steal, Keller issued a walk to Daniel Robert to load the bases and another to Blake Logan to push in Auburn's first run of the game. Despite a Jordan Ebert strikeout, the Tigers got RBI singles from Connor Short and Brett Binning to tie the score at 3-3. Auburn tried to take the lead on the Binning single, but Salem threw out Logan at the plate to end the inning.
The Alabama baseball team returns to action at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Tuesday for a 6:05 p.m. start against the Jackson State Tigers. The Tide will continue this week's slate of games with a matchup against the Conference USA-leading UAB Blazers at Regions Field on Wednesday night before traveling to Knoxville for a Southeastern Conference series against the Tennessee Volunteers.
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