AUBURN, Ala. – Trailing 8-4 entering its final at-bat, the Presbyterian College baseball rallied for seven runs in the ninth inning to pull of the comeback 11-8 win over Auburn on Friday afternoon at Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala. PC trailed 7-0 after the second inning but allowed just three hits the rest of the way, as they outscored the Tigers 11-1 in the final seven innings to improve to 9-7 on the season.
How It Happened
Brett Auckland started the ninth with his third hit of the game, a single to center, to put the leadoff man aboard. After a fielder’s choice left a runner on first with one out, Colton Chapman came on to pinch hit and singled between the third baseman and shortstop for a hit, putting runners on first and second with Guy Casaceli coming on to pinch run for Chapman. Tyler Weyenberg then delivered the first blow of the inning with a double in to the right field corner to score both runners and make it an 8-6 game with just one out.
Cletis Avery kept the inning going with a single to left center to put runners on the corners. AJ Priaulx, representing the go-ahead run, then followed with a ground rule double in to the left field corner, scoring Weyenberg and putting two in scoring position. After a pitching change, Nick Wise tied the game with his only hit of the day, a single through a drawn in infield that plated Avery and again put runners on the corners, still with only one out. After another pitching change, Nick Guimbarda singled in the Priaulx from third for the go-ahead run, putting PC in front 9-8 with two on and still only one out.
After TJ Richardson drew a walk to load the bases, Auckland recorded his fourth hit of the day and second of the inning with a two-run single through the right side to push the PC lead to the eventual final of 11-8. All told, 11 batters came to plate in PC’s final at-bat with eight recording hits and seven crossing the plate.
The Tigers built their early lead with one run in the first and a six-run second inning to take control of the game earlier. Jonah Todd led off the first with a single to second with a PC error allowing Josh Anthony to reach to put two on with no outs. Daniel Ingram drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single to right field to score Todd and make it a 1-0 lead. Auburn looked poised to add more runs, as Dylan Ingram followed with a single to load the bases with no outs but PC starter Brian Kehner battled back to get a strikeout and a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning and strand three.
Auburn was relentless in the second inning, though, adding six runs on eight hits to extend its lead. The Tigers strung together three straight hits to start the inning to bring one in and put two on. After a groundout, AU managed four straight hits, three for extra bases, with each scoring at least one run to account for five runs and make it a 7-0 lead.
Kehner flipped a switch after the second, facing the minimum through the next five innings. He allowed a leadoff single in the third but induced another 1-6-3 double play to erase Auburn’s only base runner between the third and seventh innings. The senior captain retired 13 straight batters from that point on, allowing the PC offense to go to work.
PC answered back with a pair of runs in the top of the third, the first runs allowed by Auburn starter Keegan Thompson this season. With two outs and a runner on first, Weyenberg singled to center to put two aboard. Avery and Priaulx then hit back-to-back RBI singles to score both runners and cut the lead to 7-2.
The Blue Hose added another run in the fourth. Guimbarda doubled to center to lead off the inning and moved to third on a groundout. Auckland then drove him in with a bloop single over the out-stretched glove of the second baseman to make it a 7-3 game.
PC was able to pull even closer in the eighth. Weyenberg started the inning with a single, his second hit of the day, and moved to second a few pitches later on a wild pitch. A flyout to right allowed him to go to third, before Priaulx singled for his second hit of the game to score him and make it a 7-4 game.
Auburn tacked on what looked to be an important run in the bottom half of the eighth. Blake Logan hit a solo home run to right, his first of the season, to push the advantage to 8-4 at time.
After the seven-run ninth by the Blue Hose, Ryan Hedrick came on to close it out. The righty retired the first two batters of the inning with a foul out to Priaulx at first base and strikeout, before an error allowed Auburn’s final hope to reach. Hedrick slammed the door with a strikeout looking on three pitches to cap of the 11-8 PC victory.
Pitchers of Record
Robert Moss (1-0) earned the win in relief, allowing one run on two hits in 1.0 inning of work. The lone run was a solo home run in the eighth.
Calvin Coker (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing six runs on five hits in 1.0 inning of relief action.
Ryan Hedrick earned his second save of the season, working a scoreless ninth inning. The righty hurler allowed just one base runner on a PC error, while recording two strikeouts, including the final out of the game.
Player of the Game
A number of players are deserving of recognition today but senior Tyler Weyenberg put together quite a game to help lead PC to the victory. The senior captain went 3-for-4 with a double, three runs and two RBIs on the afternoon. He provide a big blow in the ninth inning with a two-RBI double in the right field corner to score PC’s first two runs of the seven-run ninth.
- The Blue Hose totaled a season-high 19 hits on the afternoon, tied for eighth-most in a game in PC’s Division I era. It was the most hits by PC since 2015 when it reached 19 hits against Winthrop on May 8. It was the most hits allowed by Auburn since giving up 21 hits to Mississippi State last season.
- The seven-run inning was the most runs in an inning by the Blue Hose this season. It was highest run-producing inning by PC since last season when recorded a seven-run ninth against VCU in a loss on May 15.
- Brett Auckland exploded with a four-hit game in the win, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs to raise his batting average over 70 points on the day. The senior got two of his four hits in the ninth inning rally, including a two-RBI single that drove in the final two PC runs of the day. His four-game is the second by a PC player this season, as Nick Guimbarda went 4-for-5 at the Citadel last week.
- AJ Priaulx and Nick Guimbarda both continued to swing the bat well, each going 3-for-5 with a double on the afternoon. Priaulx added a run and three RBIs, giving him a 12 driven in on the year, while boosting his average to .396. Guimbarda scored twice and drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth, while improving his average to .373. The two are tied for the team lead in multi-hit games this year with six each.
- Auburn starter Keegan Thompson had yet to allow a run this season prior to today, starting the year with 21.0 straight scoreless innings in his first three starts. PC ended that stretch with four runs against him on the day, while totaling 10 hits against Thompson, who had allowed just six hits combined in his first three starts. In fact, as a team, Auburn had not allowed a run in a series-opening game this season before today, recording shutouts in each of its three previous Friday games.
- The win was PC’s fifth win over an SEC opponent since going D1 and its second this season, both over schools from the state of Alabama. The Blue Hose knocked off Alabama, 4-3, on February 19.
The same two teams will return to Plainsman Park on Saturday, as PC goes for the series win in game two of the three-game series at 1 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on the SEC Network+.