AUBURN, Ala. – In the longest game in Alabama baseball history at 6:36, the Crimson Tide took down the fourth-ranked Auburn Tigers on the Plains to complete the weekend sweep. The Sunday victory improved the Tide to 18-29 overall and 5-19 in Southeastern Conference play.
The victory marks the third time Alabama has swept the Tigers in Auburn in consecutive weekend series in program history and the first time the Tide has completed back-to-back three-game series sweeps of AU in Auburn. Alabama has also won seven straight games at Auburn to tie for the longest winning streak over the Tigers in Auburn, which came from May 6, 1955-April 21, 1958 – the only other time UA has accomplished the feat.
Sunday's series finale saw seven lead changes, including three different times in extra innings where Alabama scored and Auburn matched to extend the game up until the 15th inning. In that 15th, the Crimson Tide was able to score two on a Sam Finnerty RBI-single and a sacrifice fly from Connor Short to take the decisive lead. The Tide then brought in Garrett Suchey with a runner aboard, but the junior shut the door with a lineout to center for the game's final out to secure the UA sweep.
Alabama used eight total pitchers and 20 players saw time at the plate, including three who did both – Finnerty, Zac Rogers and Sonny Potter. The Crimson Tide's seventh pitcher, Potter (1-1), got his first career win with 0.1 of an inning worked. Suchey followed him with 1.0 inning of scoreless baseball for his third save of the season.
The Tide offense was led by Chandler Taylor, who finished 4-for-6 with two doubles, a home run, one RBI, a team-high three runs scored and two walks. Also homering was Hunter Alexander as part of his 2-for-6 night that included a team-high tying two RBI, two runs scored and a pair of walks.
Auburn kicked off the day's scoring, plating one run apiece in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 advantage. Alabama took its first lead of the day in the fourth, scoring three runs on four hits for the 3-2 lead. Alexander notched a two-run home run to the deepest part of the park making it a 2-2 game. Kyle Kaufman followed with a double and then Short recorded a two-out double of his own, bringing in Kaufman to give the Tide the one-run lead.
The Tigers evened things up in the bottom of the fifth then took a one-run lead at 4-3 in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Alabama pulled out front, scoring a pair of runs on just one hit. An infield single from Cobie Vance with two in scoring position brought in the tying run. With runners at the corners and two down, a chopper from Alexander at the second baseman was misplayed to allow the man from third to score, giving UA the 5-4 lead heading to the stretch.
Auburn tied things up in the bottom of the seventh. A leadoff single and a wild pitch put a Tiger at second. Another error allowed two to reach before a wild play allowed Auburn to cross the tying run. What looked like a potential 6-4-3 double play resulted in a force at second but the runner at first was called safe. The Tide first baseman turned around to debate the call, and while his back was turned the man at third took advantage to score without a throw, bringing the tally to 5-5 after seven.
Best. Rally. Cap. Ever. pic.twitter.com/5j28nDzlXh— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 8, 2017
The two teams stayed scoreless in regulation to move the game into extras, where they would first match each other with one run apiece in the 10th inning. Walker McCleney singled up the chute with a man on third to score one, giving the Tide the advantage heading into the home half. Auburn answered the call with one of its own in the bottom of the 10th.
In the 11th, the two teams matched with one apiece again. Taylor sent a 2-2 pitch to straightaway center for a solo homer to move Alabama in front, but the Crimson Tide was unable to maintain the lead. In the bottom of the inning, Auburn scored one to send things forward.
The game went scoreless in the 12th, but the 13th saw each squad post a two-spot in the inning. A suicide squeeze by Vance with runners on the corners brought in the go-ahead run and became out No. 2 for UA in the inning. Intentional walks to Taylor and Alexander loaded the bases for Zac Rogers, who drew a free pass with the bases loaded to send in one more for Alabama. Auburn came right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the 13th to extend the game.
The 14th was another scoreless frame, but Alabama took the decisive advantage in the 15th with two runs for the 11-9 lead. Another Taylor double led off the frame before an error on Alexander's grounder to short put Tide at the corners. One out later, Finnerty found an opening on the left side for a single to score the go-ahead run. A wild pitch moved both into scoring position before Short's sacrifice fly to deep left added one more insurance run.
Auburn would reach the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the 15th, but a lineout to center ended the game with both men stranded.
Next up for the Crimson Tide is a midweek trip to Birmingham to take on the Samford Bulldogs at Joe Lee Griffin Stadiun on Tuesday, May 9. The two teams are set for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch with the game airing live on YouTube (through SamfordSports.com). Alabama and Samford met earlier this season, with the Bulldogs claiming a 10-3 win on March 15 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.