Seventh inning sparks No. 14 Auburn’s comeback win vs. No. 18 Iowa

Justin Hokansonby:Justin Hokanson02/24/24


Courtesy of Auburn Athletics

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – No. 14 Auburn scored six runs in its final three at-bats to come from behind and defeat No. 18 Iowa 7-5 Friday night in the team’s first game of the Jax College Baseball Classic at 121 Financial Ballpark.
Trailing 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Mason Maners hit a solo homer to tie the game, sparking a three-run frame that also included a go-ahead, two-run shot from Bobby Peirce.
After managing two singles through six innings off starting pitcher Brody Brecht, the Tigers (5-0) tallied four hits, including three extra-base hits, as soon as Iowa (3-2) went to its bullpen in the seventh.  
“We just hung in there,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “We just saw a top-10 pick overall, but when they went to the bullpen, Maners’ one swing got us back tied and we saw a chance after going through a ton of adversity for the first six innings of the game.”
“Our composure never changed,” Maners added. “Everyone was level-headed and knew it was going to be a long baseball game. We have so many good arms that are going to come in and keep them there, and we have so many good bats that are going to be able to extend the inning and put up some runs.”
Auburn added what proved to be two huge insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on a solo homer from Christian Hall and sacrifice fly from Cooper Weiss, and Will Cannon recorded the final three outs to end the game.
John Armstrong and Cam Tilly (1-0, 2.25) held Iowa scoreless from the fourth through eighth innings to allowed for the team’s second straight come-from-behind win. The pitching staff struck out 12 in the contest.  
“When we got to Armstrong, the three relievers that came in the ballgame tonight, they did not walk a batter,” Thompson added. “All three were good. All three shoved the ball in the strike zone and I think that’s how we got to the finish line once our offense cranked up.”
“I was just telling myself to breathe, just use my stuff and attack,” Tilly said after earning his first collegiate win. “I knew my stuff was enough, it was just a matter of attacking and trusting my defense.”
Iowa jumped out to an early lead with a run on a single, pair of walks and hit batter in the top of the first, but Chase Allsup buckled down with two strikeouts in the frame to avoid further damage.
Allsup struck out five in the first 2.2 innings, and Caden Green provided a run-saving diving catch at third base to keep the score 2-0 through the top of the third.
Taking the standout defensive play to the plate, Auburn got on the scoreboard thanks to a two-out walk from Weiss and two-out RBI single from Ike Irish in the home half of the frame. Maners drove a one-out walk and ultimately came around to score.
Iowa got the run right back on a leadoff double that fell into no-man’s land down the left field line and RBI single to follow. Armstrong entered in relief of Allsup with one out and nobody on in the fourth and set down the first five batters he faced.
Javon Hernandez drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and moved into scoring position with a two-out stolen base. Weiss hit a sharply-hit ball back up the middle but the Iowa second baseman was shaded there and made the inning-ending play.
Armstrong held Iowa in check with a pair of strikeouts in the top of the sixth, and Auburn inched closer with a run off Brecht in the bottom of the inning. Irish reached on a leadoff error and eventually came around to score on a timely two-out, two-strike single up the middle from Hall.
Tilly worked a clean top of the seventh with a pair of strikeouts, and the offense came to life with the aforementioned fireworks in the bottom of the frame.
Iowa’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth made it 7-5, but it was too late for the Hawkeyes as Cannon induced a grounder to short to end the game.
The Tigers turnaround to face Wichita State (2-2) Saturday at 12 pm. CT at 121 Financial Ballpark.

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