There goes Davis with a walk-off home run

Bryan Matthews, Senior Editor
Auburn Sports

AUBURN | The SEC’s worst home run hitting team hit one of the most dramatic home runs of the season Sunday.

With two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Conor Davis crushed a home run well over the Green Monster in left field to give No. 17 Auburn a walk-off 6-5 win over No. 6 South Carolina at Plainsman Park.

“I got that one hanger. I was nervous a little bit, big situation, but I was ready to go,” Davis said. “Right when he threw the pitch, I was like, ‘If I hit this, I’m going to get ahold of it.’ I knew.”

It was the freshman’s first-career home run and Auburn’s ninth home run of the season.

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Dakota Sumpter/Auburn athletics

The inning started with back-to-back singles by Jonah Todd and Daniel Robert. After Gamecock reliever Josh Reagan retired the next two batters, Davis pinch-hit for Bowen McGuffin. Davis took Reagan’s first two pitches for balls, fouled off the next pitch and delivered the game-winning home run on a hanging slider.

“I didn’t think my first home run would be like this. It’s nuts,” Davis said. “I was going around first and I saw Coach (Brad) Bohannon just going nuts. Since he recruited me that was making me go even crazier and then Sis going nuts and everyone waiting at the plate. It was just unreal.”

The win improves Auburn to 23-7 overall and 7-2 in the SEC while South Carolina falls to 19-8 and 6-3. The Tigers have opened the season with seven-straight series wins.

“It seems like going through the course of the year we keep having a new guy in the moment when they get the opportunity to do something special,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “I just think it’s powerful for us. It’s a teaching point for us that we can do things. We don’t have to rely on one person.”

Auburn led 3-2 after six innings, but the Gamecocks opened the seventh with a double and bunt single off relief pitch Andrew Mitchell. Madison Stokes drove in a run on a groundout to second base before TJ Hopkins drove a two-run home run over the left field wall for a 5-3 Gamecock lead.

“They threw a huge punch there,” Thompson said. “We’re not used to that with Andrew Mitchell. That’s the first runs he’s given up this year. I thought it stunned us for a little bit.”

South Carolina led 2-0 before Auburn scored two in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Robert and a two-out RBI single by Dylan Ingram. The Tigers took the lead in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Robert.

Todd and Jay Estes had three hits apiece. Robert drove in three runs.

Calvin Coker (2-1) closed the game with two hitless innings to earn the win. Ryan Watson started and allowed a run on four hits in 2.0 innings. Cole Lipscomb held South Carolina to a run on one hit in 4.0 innings before turning it over to Mitchell in the seventh.

Auburn hosts Georgia Tech Tuesday night at 6 p.m. CT. The Tigers return to SEC play next weekend at Texas A&M.

GAME NOTES

** Sunday’s game was Auburn’s first walk-off home run win since opening day in 2013 when Damek Tomscha hit solo home run to leadoff the ninth and beat Maine 3-2.

** It’s the first home series win over South Carolina since 1996.

** Auburn has matched its 23 wins from last season and is one-game shy of its eight conference wins in 2016.

** The Tigers are now 8-2 in one-run games.

** Lipscomb retired the final eight batters he faced, throwing just 11 pitches in the fifth and 12 in the sixth. The four innings and 61 pitches were both season highs.

** Auburn went 17 innings without a run against the Gamecocks between the third inning of Friday night’s game and the fourth inning of Sunday’s game.

** Auburn’s attendance for the three-game series was 11,914, the most since 2003 and the third-most in school history.

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