Auburn rallies late to avoid sweep vs. Ole Miss

Auburn scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday against Ole Miss — the last coming on a passed ball that plated the game-winning run from third base — as the Tigers won the finale between the teams 10-9. The Rebels were looking for their first SEC series sweep since taking three-straight games at LSU in May of 2022.

The Tigers (22-24, 4-20) tied the game in the top of the inning on a pinch-hit RBI single from Kaleb Freeman. Pinch runner Javon Hernandez advanced to third on a wild pitch and a stolen base before coming around to score on the passed ball.

Ole Miss (25-22, 9-15 SEC) sophomore designated hitter Andrew Fischer had given the Rebels the lead with a bases-clearing double in the top of the ninth. Fischer had five RBIs in the game and 11 over the weekend. He hit three home runs in the series, including one Sunday.

Auburn’s Cooper Weiss hit a go-ahead solo home run in the eighth — which was followed by a solo home run from Ike Irish one batter later. Rebels senior leftfielder Jackson Ross had tied the game with a solo home run in the top of the inning.

Sunday’s game featured five lead changes. Ole Miss led 5-0 after the top of the first inning by way of towering home runs from Fischer and junior right fielder Treyson Hughes.

“It’s always tough when you have the lead in the ninth and you try to close it out, you’re that close, obviously it’s a kick in the gut,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “I think, when we look back at this game and reflect, it was one of those where, yeah it may have gotten away from us in the ninth, but it’s hard to say that we deserved to win this.”

Fischer’s home run came with one out in the top of the first, a towering fly ball to centerfield. Hughes came to the plate with two runners on and two outs and drove a ball deep to right that he knew was gone as soon as bat met ball. Hughes hit 25 home runs in two seasons with the Bears.

Auburn got two runs back in the bottom of the first, another in the second and another in the third to cut the Rebels’ lead down to one. Junior Mason Nichols went 2.1 innings, gave up three earned runs, struck out one and walked one. He was replaced by sophomore Mason Morris — making his second appearance of the weekend — who allowed the tying run on an RBI double from Chris Stanfield in the fourth.

Morris walked three batters to load the bases in the fifth, bringing sophomore Brayden Jones in for his second appearance of the series. Jones forced a popup to end the inning.

Freshman shortstop Brayden Randle hit a double with one out in the seventh and, following a single from senior centerfielder Ethan Groff, the Rebels had runners on first and third. Sophomore second baseman Luke Hill hit a grounder that led to Randle being thrown out at home, and Fischer grounded out to end the inning.

Back-to-back doubles from Cooper McMurray and Cade Belyeu in the seventh off junior Gunnar Dennis gave Auburn its first lead of the day. Ross’ tying home run led off the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore J.T. Quinn, who had entered the game in relief of Dennis in the seventh, gave up two solo home runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Fischer came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth and hit a ball off the wall in left-center, bringing in three runs and putting Ole Miss back in front. Freeman tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the inning before Hernandez came around to score the game-winning run.

“(We’ve) played a lot of baseball games and we’ve been kicked in the gut a lot,” Bianco said. “So, we need to get over it and move on.”

Ole Miss plays Murray State Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Swayze Field and then hosts top-ranked Texas A&M for a three-game set starting Friday. Wednesday’s game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.