Auburn opened SEC play this weekend in a big way. They not only took the series from the 5th ranked Florida Gators, they swept the series in three very different games. This is monumental step forward for Butch Thompson's second Auburn Baseball team as they look to make a name for themselves in the conference this season.
Game 1, Auburn 14-3
Florida struck first in this one, but Auburn quickly struck back. Florida never led again as Auburn opened an absolute can of whoop ass on the Gators in the bottom of the 5th inning.
Jay Estes got things started for the Tigers after Florida's run. He hit an RBI double in the bottom of the 2nd. Will Holland followed with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 3rd to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead. Then, in the bottom of the 5th, Auburn's bats exploded.
With hits, walks, passed balls, and more, the Tigers went around the order and plated 8 runs in the bottom of the 5th to take an 11-1 lead over the 5th ranked Gators. They chased Florida starter Alex Faedo from the game early in the inning. He gave up 6 earned runs on 4 hits and walked 6 batters. This after allowing no walks in his last few outings. He also struck out 6 batters.
For Auburn, meanwhile, Keegan Thompson continued to pitch brilliantly. He did allow 2 runs to score - only one of them earned - but he struck out a season-high 8 batters in his 6.1 innings and only allowed 3 hits and 2 walks. Thompson continues to be a dominant force on the mound for Auburn. Freshman Ryan Watson came on in relief and did a marvelous job closing the Gators out.
Florida did add 1 more runs before the end, but Auburn picked up 3 more, as well. Freshman Will Holland led the team with 4 RBIs - 2 on his home run - as Auburn knocked off the Gators 14-3 in Game 1.
Game 2, Auburn 2-1.
The Tigers took the first SEC series of the season in a pitcher's duel Saturday afternoon between Casey Mize and Brady Singer. Mize threw 8 strikeouts and pitched through some serious jams for 7 innings to pick up the victory. At one point, the bases were loaded with no outs, but Mize was able to get through it thanks to some great defense. The only Gator run on the day came in the 7th inning when a runner crossed the plate on an inning-ending double play before the final out was tallied. Cole Lipscomb entered the game in the 8th and closed it out.
Auburn's first run of the day came in a rather strange fashion. Jonah Todd walked, then moved to 2nd on a passed ball. He then came home on two straight balks by Brady Singer. The other run was scored after two doubles by Jay Estes and Luke Jarvis. Jarvis' double brought Estes home, and that was all Auburn needed to secure the upset series victory over the 5th ranked Gators.
Game 3, Auburn 6-5.
Sunday afternoon's game was a back-and-forth battle throughout the day. Jay Estes got the Tigers on the board first with one of his many doubles this weekend. He had one of the hottest bats of the team. Florida scored 4 in the 3rd to take a 3-1 lead, but Auburn responded with 3 runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game.
Florida took a 5-4 lead in the 5th. Auburn was in a very good situation in the bottom half of the 7th to take the lead, but they only picked up one run on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Auburn starter Davis Daniel was chased from the game in that 3rd inning. He was replaced by Corey Herndon, but Calvin Coker did most of the work for the Tigers on the day. Andrew Mitchell pitched the final inning and shut the Gators down with two strikeouts and a ground out.
The Tigers came into the bottom of the 9th with a chance to get a walk-off win. The frame opened with a single by Blake Logan. Will Holland followed with one of the most beautiful bunts I've ever seen that resulted in runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs.
A pinch runner for Blake Logan brought Jonah Todd to the plate looking to sacrifice the winning run over. He did his job to perfection, laying down a bunt to the pitcher. The pitcher went for the lead out at 3rd - something that wasn't going to happen anyway, and his throw was wild to the left, allowing pinch-runner JJ Schafer to trot in for the winning run and sealing the deal on Auburn's 6-5 victory and the sweep of the Gators!
Sweeping #5 Florida cannot be downplayed. Sweeping them in the manner that Auburn did is even bigger. The Tigers dominated Friday night. They won the pitcher's duel on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, they fought back twice from deficits to come away with the walk-off win. This is an Auburn team that has a ton of potential.
Next up is a midweek game in Atlanta Tuesday night against Georgia Tech. They'll follow that with a trip to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs, who lost the first two games to LSU of the weekend and are losing the 3rd as this is published. There is a chance for Auburn to really get the SEC schedule rolling in a big way next weekend in Athens. They'll follow that with the Capital City Classic in Montgomery against Alabama and then a weekend series at home against South Carolina.
WAR EAGLE! WHAT A WEEKEND!