The Tigers (31-20, 12-13) took a 5-3 lead in that frame, and the bullpen duo of John Madden and Michael Nix combined to blank the Bulldogs (25-23, 9-15) over the final four innings to win the first game of the SEC series.
Arnold Hughey pitched five innings, scattering nine hits and four runs to pick up the win and improve to 6-4. Nix notched his 13th save. Georgia starter Michael Hyle (3-4) took the loss, surrendering five runs on nine hits through the first five frames. Junior left-hander Rip Warren gave the Bulldogs a splendid relief effort, tossing four scoreless innings and tying his career-high with six strikeouts.
Auburn went up 1-0 in the second as Karl Amonite doubled to center, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout by Jeff Boutwell. Georgia took a 3-1 lead in the third. Matthew Dunn led off with a single to center field where Auburn’s Bruce Edwards misplayed the ball allowing Dunn to move to around to third. Bobby Felmy followed with a single to right to tie the game at one. Jason Jacobs and Kyle Keen then each reached on bunt singles to load the bases. Felmy would come across to score when Josh Morris grounded into a double play. Then, Joey Side added an RBI single to left to score Keen from second.
Auburn pulled back within one in the fourth on an RBI single by Russell Dixon that scored Boutwell who had reached on a double. In the fifth, the Tigers took the lead for good. Adam Stacey and Tyler Johnstone each singled and scored in the frame. Stacey crossed the plate on a groundout by Clete Thomas and Johnstone scored on a double by Josh Bell. With two outs, Amonite added a single off the diving glove of Bulldog second baseman Jacobs that brought in Bell.
Georgia missed a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the inning. Joshua Fields and Adam McDaniel recorded back-to-back singles. Fields got picked off second . Dunn put a bunt down to move McDaniel into scoring position with two outs. However, Hughey then struck out Felmy. Jacobs brought the Bulldogs to within one at 5-4 when he led off the bottom of the fifth with his fourth home run of the season.
With one out in the sixth, pinch-hitter Jonathan Wyatt reached on a base hit off Madden, He stole second and then went to third on a groundout by McDaniel. Nix got Dunn to groundout to preserve the Tiger lead. Georgia’s only other threat came in the eighth. Morris led off with a base hit. Madden then struck out the next two Bulldogs before Auburn turned to Nix. He issued a walk to Wyatt and then got McDaniel to line out.
“It was a game of missed opportunities for us especially in the fourth, and that’s where Auburn got the momentum back,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We didn’t score and then they were able to go to their two bullpen guys after that, and that’s how they have been winning.
“Our guys are the king of bouncing back, and I know they will come out Saturday and be ready to go,” Perno added. “We’ve been playing good baseball but not getting those timely hits and our margin for error is real thin.”
The series continues Saturday at 1:06 pm ET (CSS-TV). Auburn will start junior Josh Sullivan (7-4, 3.76) while the Bulldogs counter with senior Sean Ruthven (2-4, 4.22).