Auburn jumped out to a six-run lead after five and then held on to defeat Florida, 7-4, on Friday night in the series opener at McKethan Stadium. With the win, Auburn's first in Gainesville since 2006, it improves to 30-19, 10-15 SEC while Florida falls to 27-24, 12-13 SEC.
"I thought our guys did a really good job and managed to come up with some really big hits," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "Ryan Tella with the three-run home run and (Dan) Glevenyak hits a double into the corner. I feel like this club is playing with a lot of confidence now and good things are happening. We have to clean up a few things, we made a few mistakes defensively, but we overcame those. When you are playing better you find a way to do that."
Tella's second home run of the year staked Auburn to a 3-0 lead in the fourth as he sent a 2-2 Jonathon Crawford offering into the palm trees in right. It was his first home run since hitting an inside-the-park home run against the College of Charleston on Feb. 23 of this season. It was also Auburn's seventh home run in its last six games, dating back to the series-opener against Ole Miss.
"I got down 2-2 and I just remember today in BP I was missing a few balls and (hitting coach Gabe Gross) pulled me aside and told me to put my foot down to give me a pause and give me a little more reaction to the outside too," Tella said. "Gabe told us that all balls die in center but carry to the corners."
Auburn extended the lead to 6-0 in the fifth as Dan Glevenyak delivered a two-run double down the line in right and then scored on a Jordan Ebert RBI single back up the middle. Glevenyak, who was moved to the five hole in the lineup at the start of Auburn's current five-game winning streak, finished the night 3-for-5 with a double, the homer, two RBI and two runs scored. Since settling into the five spot, he is hitting .368 (7-for-19) with two doubles, two home runs, nine RBI and five runs scored.
Florida got back into the game with a four-run seventh to cut the lead to 6-4. Only one of the four runs that scored were earned as Florida capitalized on a Glevenyak throwing error on a Zack Powers grounder with one out. Auburn starter Conner Kendrick then got a strike out for the second out of the inning before three straight singles and a bases-loaded walk made it 6-2 and ended Kendrick's outing. Trey Cochran-Gill then entered and allowed a sac fly and a RBI infield single to cut it to 6-4, bringing Terrance Dedrick in with two outs and two on. Dedrick got a swinging strike out to end the Florida threat and keep Auburn up two runs.
Ebert pushed the lead back to three with a two-out, solo home run in the top of the ninth.
Kendrick (4-3) earned his second win in his last three starts by scattering seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out four. Of the four runs that Florida scored, only one was earned.
Dedrick earned his team-leading seventh save by throwing the final 2 1/3 innings, striking out four.
Crawford (3-6) was charged for four runs on six hits and three walks in four-plus innings, striking out three.
Cullen Wacker kept the game scoreless in the bottom of the third as he threw out Harrison Bader trying to score from second on a Richie Martin two-out single. It was Wacker's third outfield assist of the season and the sixth of his career.
Auburn finished with 11 hits, its fifth straight double-digit hit game. Garrett Cooper, who joined Ebert and Tella with two hits each, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games with a fourth-inning single.
Auburn will try to win a second consecutive SEC series at 6pm CT on Saturday. Michael O'Neal (8-3) will get the start on the mound for Auburn while Florida will counter with left-hander Danny Young (3-4).