Auburn staged a dramatic ninth inning rally Sunday night to defeat Clemson 11-10 and force a deciding game Monday night for the regional championship and a berth in the Super Regionals.
Auburn led 5-1 until Clemson scored seven runs in the 5th for an 8-5 lead. Clemson led 9-8 going to the top of the ninth, and Tiger releiver Thomas Cruz retired the first two batters. So, Clemson stood one out away from advancing.
But things started unraveling for Clemson when Cruz issued a two out walk on four pitches to Justin Bryant. Then, perhaps the play of the game, and possibly the regional, occurred. Facing an 0-2 count, Justin Fradejas popped up into short centerfield. Clemson second baseman Mike Freeman backpedaled and appeared to be in position to make a play, but the ball bounced off the edge of his glove for a single. With runners on first and third, Crede Simpson, a native of Auburn and a defensive replacement for centerfielder Trent Mummey in the 8th, ripped a 1-2 pitch from Cruz over the 385 foot sign in left centerfield for a three run homer. That put Auburn up 11-9 going to the bottom of the ninth.
Clemson did try to stage its own rally. Richie Schaffer led off with a single. Wilson Boyd followed with single with Schaffer stopping at second. Spencer Kieboom sacrificed the runners to second and third. Schaffer would score on a wild pitch and Boyd would take third. After Addison Johnson grounded out to first for the second out, Mike Freeman walked giving the Tigers runners on first and third. But Jeff Schaus popped up to second to end the game.
Clemson news conference: (Jack Leggett, Mike Freeman)
Auburn news conference: (John Pawlowski, Austin Hubbard, Creede Simpson)
Monday night’s decisive game will begin at 7:00 PM Eastern Time. The winner advances to play the winner of Monday’s Atlanta regional final between Georgia Tech and Alabama.