Auburn players mob hero of the game after Edouard Julien's game winning hit in SEC Tournament (photo: Dennis Victory/al.com)
“I just wanted to put the ball in play, anything that could’ve helped the team win.” And Auburn’s Edouard Julien did just that in the Tiger’s SEC Tournament victory over Kentucky Tuesday.
Leading 3–2 in the ninth inning Auburn appeared to be on its way to an opening round victory when the Wildcats forced extra innings. Then in the bottom of the 11th with the game tied 3–3 and runners on first and second, Julien (who had gone 0–4 with three strikeouts on the night) stood at the plate, facing a 3–2 count. The designated hitter drove the next pitch to left center field for a walkoff single to beat Kentucky 4–3 and send the Wildcats (34–22) back to Lexington.
It’s unbelievable,” said Julien. “It’s probably the biggest hit I’ve had in my life, and I’m happy I did it for the team.”
Auburn coach Butch Thompson wasn’t available for comment as he had to hurry back to Auburn to attend his daughter’s high school graduation. But assistant coach Gabe Gross said he was particularly proud of Julien. “[Edouard’s] struggled a little bit against left-handed pitching this year but came through in a big way.”
“We hadn’t had [a game] like this in a while,” continued Gross. “It’s so good for our guys to be locked into a struggle with another team and swap blows.” Hopefully it will give the team momentum as it sinto the double-elimination portion of the tourney.
The walkoff win was Auburn’s first in the SEC Tournament in 19 years. The Tiger bench emptied on to the field to mob Julien as he ran the base paths. His timely hit keeps Auburn hopes alive for hosting an NCAA regional. The last time the Tigers (38–19, 15–15 SEC) did that was in 2010.
Coach Thompson said earlier this week that he felt the Tigers have already done enough with their record and 12 RPI. However, Thompson doesn’t have a voice on the selection committee. So the further Auburn can advance in the SEC Tourney, the more the selection chances improve.
The Tigers face a tough challenge Wednesday, though, when they play No. 2 seed Ole Miss (42–14, 18–12 SEC). It looks like another Auburn freshman will be thrust into the spotlight as right-hander Tanner Burns (5–4, 3.33) will take the mound for the Tigers at 1 p.m. CT in Hoover’s Metropolitan Stadium.
Go Tigers, Beat Ole Miss!
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