Miller’s walk-off single lifts Auburn past Jacksonville State

AUBURN, Ala. – Tyler Miller hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning to lift Auburn past Jacksonville State, 8-7, Wednesday night at Plainsman Park.

With runners on the corners and one out, Miller swung on the first pitch he saw from Jacksonville State reliver Austin Downey and sent it off the base of the wall in left field to score Judd Ward and end the ballgame.

The walk-off win was Auburn’s second of the season and its first since the third game against Presbyterian Opening Weekend. 

“We deserve one of those,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “We’ve had some of these where we played a great baseball game and lost. We’ve had more than our share of that type of ballgame. I told them if we were going to stay together I was going to continue to be honest. It’s great to win a baseball game that way and figure out a way to win.”

Miller led the way from the plate, going 3-for-6 and driving in a pair of runs. It marked his 14th multi-hit effort and 13th multi-RBI game of the season.

“We needed that one big time,” Miller said. “We hadn’t had a walk-off since Presbyterian, and that gives the team a lot of momentum. Getting the walk-off win is always good for the morality of the team.”

Judd Ward not only sparked the bottom of the 10th inning with a leadoff double and eventually scored the winning run, but also started a game-tying, three-run sixth inning with a RBI triple to right field.

“I thought Judd’s second half of the ballgame was a catalyst and jumpstart for our offense,” Thompson added.

Cam Hill pitched a scoreless top of the 10th thanks to a 1-6-3 double play he started and earned his second win of the season.

Mason Barnett earned the start for Auburn and retired the Gamecocks in order with a strikeout in his only inning of work. Joseph Gonzalez pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts and allowed for Auburn’s offense to make its comeback. Nate LaRue also made his collegiate debut on the mound and pitched a scoreless seventh inning.

Auburn (16-18) started the scoring in the bottom of the first for the second straight game as Brody Moore’s doubled off the left field wall to score Rankin Woley.

However, Jacksonville State got the run right back on a sacrifice fly in the top of the second, and the Gamecocks used a four-run third on a walk, hit-by-pitch, four singles and a sacrifice fly to take a 5-1 lead.

Woley homered for the second straight day to shrink the deficit to 5-2. He pulled a 3-2 pitch down the left field line in the bottom of the third for this fifth home run of the season and became the third Auburn player to homer in back-to-back games in the last two weeks.

With Gonzalez holding Jacksonville State in check on the mound, Auburn tied the game with a three-run sixth behind Ward’s RBI triple and Miller’s game-tying single to right.

An inning later, Ryan Bliss hit a two-out, two-run double down the left field line to give Auburn the 7-5 lead.

Jacksonville State forced extra innings with solo home runs in the eighth and ninth innings, but the Tigers won it in the 10th in dramatic fashion.

Auburn wraps up its five-game homestand with a three-game series vs. No. 14 Florida (26-11, 9-6 SEC) this weekend.

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