Wild finish caps off series win over Bulldogs

Auburn pitcher Angel Bunner threw out Megan Wiggins at home plate to end the game and give Auburn the win.

AU Softball:  Georgia’s Megan Wiggins socked a two-out fly ball to right field in the seventh inning with her team down a run against Auburn on Sunday, one that Jane B. Moore Field barely held.

As the ball skipped off the wall, Wiggins rounded first, rounded second and was trying for a triple, until she thought better and headed back to the bag where she was greeted by shortstop Lauren Guzman, who had already received the throw from Caitlin Stangl.

Guzman chased Wiggins back toward third and delivered a throw to Kyndall White, who put the tag on Wiggins.

But Wiggins’ momentum popped the ball out of White’s glove and toward the dugout, and Wiggins got up and headed for home to score the tying run.

Tigers pitcher Angel Bunner collected the ball and fired home to catcher Elizabeth Eisterhold, who had only one thought as the large yellow sphere and Wiggins both bore down on her.

“I could not let her score,” Eisterhold said. “I have to hold on to the ball no matter what happens.”

Eisterhold slapped a tag on Wiggins and held on, recording the final out in a 3-2 win over No. 4 Georgia that gave the Tigers’ their first SEC series win in three weeks.

It was a wild way to end Auburn’s first series win over a top-five program in its 15 years as a program.

“That ending was definitely the craziest ending I’ve ever been a part of,” second baseman Kelsey Cartwright said. “Ever.”

Cartwright played a large part in setting up the late drama for the No. 25 Tigers (36-15, 13-12 SEC), knocking a double to start the sixth, moving to third on a sacrifice bunt and scoring the eventual winning run on a Kelley Smiley single.

She also scored Morgan Estell on a single in the first, getting Auburn on the board after Brianna Hesson gave Georgia (42-9, 15-8) a 2-0 lead with a home run in the top.

“Everybody has their day,” Cartwright said. “Yesterday (a 3-1 win) was somebody else, and today I had my turn. That’s why you play a team sport: Everybody has their day.”

Bunner (13-6) pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Jenee Loree, giving up two hits and striking out one, a backwards K to end the top of the sixth and strand the potential go-ahead run for Georgia.

“I can’t say enough about Angel Bunner,” Tigers coach Tina Deese said. “She’s loose, she hits her spots, she doesn’t try to out-think what’s going on. If it gets hit, it get hit, so what, next pitch.

“She plays it pitch-by-pitch. Enough said.”

Bunner also happened to be in the right place to back up White on the final play and gun the ball to home for the final out.

Deese said her view of most of the play was blocked from her perch in the dugout. All she saw was Eisterhold begging for the ball at the plate.

“I thought, ‘This is the tying run. I’ve got to get the ball home somehow,’” Bunner said. “At that point in time, you’re just focused on getting the ball home.”

With the win, Auburn wrapped up its home slate for the season and completed a weekend turnaround.

After losing six straight conference games by a combined score of 49-14, the Tigers won two straight against the Bulldogs and held a team that averages 6.6 runs per game to 3 runs over 14 innings.

Eisterhold said the team couldn’t ask for a much better way to enter their final series of the regular season at Kentucky this weekend.

“It boosts our morale a lot,” she said. “These past couple games haven’t been going too well for us, so it just skyrockets our confidence.”

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