Auburn baseball improved to 6-2 in 2015 with a sweep of Radford (2-4) at Plainsman Park, allowing only three runs in the whole series, the first time since 2003 that Tiger pitchers have been so stingy across a three-game set.
Winter weather and rain forced sweeping changes on most of the national college baseball community this weekend, with many teams in the Deep South cancelling, rescheduling and moving the location of several high-profile series.
The Tigers and Highlanders were fortunately able to play on the Plains, but turned Friday's game into a Saturday double-header, then saw Sunday's game three called off after five frames thanks to rain.
Friday's contest started poorly for Sunny Golloway's side, with Radford righty Michael Boyle hurling six shutout innings before allowing Auburn their first run (albeit unearned) in the seventh. He left after seven, having struck out five, walked two and given up five hits on 100 pitches. His counterpart, Trey Wingenter, nearly matched his effectiveness, falling one out short of seven innings, and allowing one earned run (in addition to an unearned score) on 106 pitches.
Auburn tied the game at 2-2 when JJ Shaffer scored his second run of the game on a Blake Logan sacrifice fly to the warning track in left, but Auburn couldn't push the winning run across just yet. That came in the tenth when Daniel Robert roped his second single of the game through a bases-loaded infield, plating Anfernee Grier, who was 3-for-4 in game one, with his fourth double of the year.
The Auburn bullpen ran out Will Thompson to close the seventh and open the eighth, before Dalton Rentz pitched the rest of the way, striking out five in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Game two starter Rocky McCord picked up where Rentz left off, striking out ten in his seven innings of two-hit ball. He allowed an unearned run and only walked one, throwing a smooth 86 pitches. Both sides benefited from passed balls in the early going of the contest to score their first runs, Auburn coming directly on a passed ball with the bases juiced.
Radford starter Dylan Nelson headed to the home-half of the fifth tied at 1-1, but was quickly chased as Auburn opened up a 5-1 lead before the frame was over. Cody Nulph took him yard, Grier scored on an error and a Robert triple plated Jordan Ebert, before he came around on a Shaffer single. Robert again had a two-hit game, and Grier was 1-for-2 with two walks and a sixth-inning RBI, but did get caught stealing twice, bringing his total to four already. His RBI single kept his then nine-game hitting streak alive.
Izaac Yarbrough finished off the Highlanders for Saturday, with two perfect innings and three K's.
Sunday's game was called due to the aforementioned rain after Auburn opened up a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
Starter Kevin Davis made it into the fourth, but was pulled on a pitch count, allowing one hit and three walks in his 3 1/3 innings. He threw 64 pitches, and just 36 for strikes, so he was laboring a bit, but never suffered a worse consequence than issuing a free pass.He also struck out five. Jacob Milliman faced four batters, and got the final four outs for Auburn.
The Tigers led 3-0 after three, thanks in large part to Ebert's two-run blast, his third of 2015 already. Auburn now has six homers, a number it took 17 games to reach last season. Grier's fifth double of the year drove in another run in the fifth, and he came around to score on Ebert's third hit of the day, before Robert plated the final Tiger run of the series with a groundout. Ebert was 3-for-3, and Grier was 2-for-2 with another walk. Grier is now riding a ten-game hitting streak, and went 10-for-16 (.625) in last week's five games.
Next up for Auburn is Georgia Tech at Plainsman Park on Tuesday afternoon, at 4 pm.