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May 19, 2012Auburn used a three run seventh inning to relinquish a 4-2 Florida lead en route to a 5-4 victory Saturday afternoon.
Tigers fell behind for the third straight game after a two out triple by UF second baseman Taylor Turgeon put the Gators up 3-0 in the second. Auburn starter Derek Varnadore (3-7, 5.07 ERA) finished the day throwing seven innings, while allowing three runs on 10 hits.
Florida starter Karsten Whitson (3-0, 3.33 ERA) also had a strong outing going five innings giving up one run on three Auburn hits. The Tigers were able to get to Whitson for back-to-back runs in the second and third innings, but were unable to scratch across another run until the seventh.
"Something special happened here on senior day this afternoon. Having eight seniors go out with a win in their last home game is a great feeling," said head coach Jon Pawlowski.
The Tigers would start their seventh inning rally trailing 4-2, but back to back singles by Zach Alvord, and Mitchell Self would set the table for a big inning. Defensive replacement Tanner Cimo provided a third single in a row loading the bases with no outs for right fielder Creede Simpson.
Simpson would hit into a fielders' choice narrowing the UF lead to 4-3. A Ryan Tella strikeout would leave the Tigers still one run down with two outs and two men in scoring position. Senior Justin Bryant would come through with a clutch two out, two RBI single to give the Tigers a 5-4 advantage heading to the eighth.
With neither team plating a run in the eighth inning, the Gators had only three more outs to attempt to tie the game or take the lead. Varnadore was then pulled in favor of Bryant, would coaxed Gator shortstop into a groundout to lead off the ninth. UF right fielder Preston Tucker singled into right field, followed by a double from Mike Zunino putting runners at second and third with one out.
Florida designated hitter Brian Johnson hit a shallow fly ball to right field that was caught by Simpson, who then proceeded to throw out the tying run at the plate to clinch the victory for the Tigers.
"I saw Simpson was behind the ball when he caught it, so I knew it was going to be a close play at home. What a way for a senior to end his career on this field," said Pawlowski.
With the win Auburn improves to (30-26, 13-17 SEC), while the Gators fall to (40-16, 18-12 SEC). Auburn's first round opponent in next week's SEC tournament has yet to be determined, but the Tigers will have to face South Carolina, Kentucky, or Florida.