Baseball Defeats No. 23 Auburn 4-3 On Taylor Dugas' Walk-Off Home Run

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Taylor Dugas' two-out walk-off home run lifts Tide to 4-3 win over No. 23 Auburn.
Taylor Dugas' two-out walk-off home run lifts Tide to 4-3 win over No. 23 Auburn.

April 7, 2012

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala.  - Taylor Dugas' two-out, two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Alabama baseball team a thrilling, 4-3 come-from-behind victory over in-state rival, the No. 23 ranked Auburn Tigers. With the win, the Crimson Tide improves to 12-19 on the season and 3-8 in Southeastern Conference play, winning its third straight game and securing its first SEC series victory of the season. With the loss, the Tigers fall to 17-13 and 6-5 in the SEC play.

"What a great big-time hit from Dugas at the end, a flare for the dramatic," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "The last two Saturday's at home we've had that with Booth and now Dugas. I'm happy for our team. As I've said the last week or so, they've continued to battle and compete each day and fight through a lot of adversity. They are being rewarded right now."

One night after setting the Alabama school record for career triples, Dugas earned both the first walk-off home run and first walk-off hit of his illustrious UA career. The senior from Lafayette, La., took a 1-0 fastball from Auburn reliever Slade Smith (2-4) over the wall in right, giving him his second homer of the season and 14th of his career. The walk-off home run was the second of the year for the Crimson Tide, as Brett Booth's two-run walk-off effort versus No. 17 Mississippi on March 24 gave Alabama its first SEC win of the season.

Dugas finished the day 2-for-4 with one run scored and two RBI. Combined with Friday night's 2-for-4, three RBI performance, Dugas has now hit for the cycle in two combined games versus the Tigers, totaling a single, a double, a triple and a home run. Additionally, UA left fielder Hunter Gregory tallied an impressive 3-for-4, one run, one RBI day at the plate, beating out a bang-bang play at first base that would have been the final out, allowing Dugas to come to the plate and win the game for the Tide.

Trey Pilkington (1-0) earned the victory for Alabama pitching a solid 3.2 innings in relief of UA starter Justin Kamplain, allowing no runs on just one hit while striking out two batters. Kamplain, making his seventh start of the season, pitched 5.1 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits while striking out five. Smith took the loss for the Tigers, allowing three runs on four hits in 4.0 innings of work.

"On the pitching end, we were good today," Gaspard said. "Kamplain gave us a really good start. Pilkington worked through some really tough spots to keep the game where it needed to be. I felt like in the ninth inning if we could get Dugas to the plate, we were going to have a shot. A lot happened to get to that two-run homer. Carlisle had the good at-bat to get on then Gregory legs out the potential double play ball to set that up. That's just playing hard and giving Dugas the opportunity and then he delivered the big hit."

Auburn scored the first run of the day in the top of the third inning on a RBI double by Caleb Bowen to make it 1-0, before Alabama answered back an inning later in the bottom of the fourth to even the score.

Jared Reaves led off the inning by reaching on an Auburn error, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Reaves eventually reached third on a fielder's choice before Jon Kelton ripped a two-out line drive to right field to plate Reaves and tie the score at 1-1.

The Tigers came back to notch a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, chasing Kamplain from the game after 5.1 innings, to pull in front 3-1. Alabama edged closer in the bottom of the seventh, with Kelton coming around from second on Hunter Gregory's two-out RBI single, to make the score 3-2 before Dugas' ninth inning dramatics.

The final game of the three-game series between Alabama and Auburn will begin at 1:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Tide is scheduled to start freshman left-hander Jon Keller (0-1, 4.18 ERA), while the Tigers will counter with freshman lefty Daniel Koger (2-1, 1.85 ERA).

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Alabama 4, Auburn 3 (Apr 07, 2012 at Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Auburn.............. 001 002 000  -  3  6  2      (17-13,  6-5 SEC)
Alabama............. 000 100 102  -  4  9  3      (12-19,  3-8 SEC)
Pitchers: Auburn - Will Kendall; Slade Smith(5) and Caleb Bowen; Blake Austin. Alabama -
Justin Kamplain; Trey Pilkington(6) and Brett Booth.
Win-Trey Pilkington(1-0)  Loss-Slade Smith(2-4)  T-2:24  A-4541
HR UA - Taylor Dugas (2).