Auburn 6, Alabama 3: Tigers bounce back, pick up first SEC win against Crimson Tide

Hunter Kelley congratulated after his home run. - Missy Hazeldine

Auburn snapped a five-game losing streak overall and a seven-game losing streak in SEC play by combining a solid pitching performance with a few big swings.

Auburn got another solid start from Michael O'Neal (5-2) and used homers from Hunter Kelley and Garrett Cooper to overturn the Tide's early lead and win by the same score, 6-3, Friday night at Plainsman Park.

With Auburn (16-11, 1-7 SEC) dropping five games in a row since entering Baton Rouge, and losing seven straight SEC games to open the conference slate, the final two games of the home series against Alabama (17-12, 6-2) took on an even greater importance than they usually would.

Auburn hadn't started 0-8 in the SEC since 2007 (the days of Mike Bianucci, the love child of my Rangers-Auburn fandom) and was looking to keep the streak of home series wins going in the Iron Bowl of baseball. After ugly mishaps in the field and poor hitting with runners on in a 6-2 loss Thursday night, Auburn looked to be in danger of letting the season, along with any postseason hopes, slip away.

Alabama grabbed an early 1-0 lead by capitalizing on yet another Auburn error (one of three on the night ... yeah) and putting together two base hits in the first off O'Neal. In the midst of the three-plus perfect frames from O'Neal that followed that, Auburn pushed ahead, 2-1, on Kelley's two-run jack over the left field wall. In the fifth, Jordan Ebert extended the lead to 3-1 with a one-out RBI single, before Cooper blew the game open with a three-run shot to straightaway center.

O'Neal rolled, going 7 2/3 and allowing three runs, none earned, on eight hits. Terrance Dedrick finally got another shot at finishing out a close game when he got the final four outs, including working out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth.

While the pitching was fantastic, and the fielding was once again shaky, (Kelley made two errors in right, Tomscha made one at third and there was a passed ball from Blake Austin), the two home runs may have been a shot in the arm for a Tiger offense that has struggled with putting up runs against top pitchers this year.

On the day, Auburn totaled seven hits to Alabama's nine, but the combination of two errors by the Tide and the shutdown relief of Dedrick helped the Tigers win the type of game that has seemingly gone the other way in recent days. Ryan Tella hit leadoff, going 2-for-4 and adjusting to an extent to some the problem pitches he'd been swinging at recently.

Auburn plays Sunday for the series and a chance to get momentum rolling into April. Head coach John Pawlowski said after Friday's win either Daniel Koger or Will Kendall would get the start in the finale.

Highlights, via AUHD

Box score, via auburntigers.com

Alabama 3 (17-11,6-2 SEC)

Player ab r h rbi bb so po a lob avg
Georgie Salem cf 4 1 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 .283
Kenny Roberts 3b 4 1 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 .286
Ben Moore rf 4 1 2 0 0 0 3 0 0 .324
Brett Booth c 3 0 1 2 0 0 4 0 1 .311
Austen Smith 1b 4 0 1 1 0 0 6 0 1 .297
Kyle Overstreet 2b 4 0 1 0 0 0 3 4 2 .275
Mikey White ss 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 .250
Chance Vincent dh 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .125
Cameron Carlisle ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .182
Ryan Blanchard lf 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 1 .157
Andrew Miller ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .170
Jon Keller p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
Keaton Haack p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
Totals 35 3 9 3 0 4 24 6 6

Auburn 6 (16-11,1-7 SEC)

Player ab r h rbi bb so po a lob avg
Ryan Tella cf 4 1 2 0 0 0 5 0 0 .288
Jordan Ebert 2b 4 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 .309
Tanner Cimo 2b 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .100
Garrett Cooper 1b 4 1 1 3 0 1 10 1 3 .337
Cullen Wacker lf 4 0 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 .297
Damek Tomscha 3b 3 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 .269
Patrick Savage dh 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .232
Blake Austin c 3 1 0 0 1 0 4 0 2 .287
Dan Glevenyak ss 2 0 0 0 1 1 1 6 0 .213
Hunter Kelley rf 2 2 1 2 2 0 3 0 0 .259
Michael O'Neal p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 -
Terrance Dedrick p 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 -
Totals 30 6 7 6 5 4 27 12 6

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Alabama............. 100 000 020 -  3  9  2
Auburn.............. 002 040 00X -  6  7  3
-------------------------------------------
E - Overstreet(5); White(6); Tomscha, D.(7); Kelley, H. 2(2). DP - UA 2; Auburn 1. LOB - UA 6; Auburn 6. 2B - Booth(5). 3B - Moore(2). HR - Cooper, G.(2); Kelley, H.(1). SH - Glevenyak, D(9). SF - Booth(3).

Alabama ip h r er bb so wp bk hbp ibb ab bf fo go np era
Jon Keller L,3-3 5.0 6 6 6 3 2 0 1 0 0 20 24 7 5 81 4.68
Keaton Haack 3.0 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 10 12 5 1 39 2.28
Auburn ip h r er bb so wp bk hbp ibb ab bf fo go np era
Michael O'Neal W,5-2 7.2 8 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 31 32 10 10 90 1.94
Terrance Dedrick S,2 1.1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 4 0 2 19 5.40

Win - O'Neal, M. (5-2). Loss - Keller (3-3). Save - Dedrick, T. (2). BK - Keller(1). PB - Austin, B.(2). Inherited runners/scored: Dedrick, T. 2/0. Pitches/strikes: Keller 81/50; Haack 39/21; O'Neal, M. 90/60; Dedrick, T. 19/13.

Umpires - HP: Scott Kennedy 1B: Scott Cline 2B: Richie Tallent 3B: Jacob
Start: 6:00 Time: 1:58 Attendance: 3635
Weather: 67; Partly Cloudy; SW 6 MPH

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