For one beautiful summer afternoon, Keegan Thompson was throwing about as well as he ever has in his career. He also had the bats to back him up. The result was an Auburn victory in Game 1 of the Tallahassee Regional against Central Florida, 7-4.
Thompson threw a season-high 9 strikeouts in 8 innings pitched. He allowed only 4 hits, 2 runs, and 1 walk to go along with the 9 Ks. That's a pretty impressive outing, to say the least. He was relieved by Cole Lipscomb in the bottom of the 9th who gave up a 2-run homer, but UCF's 4 runs weren't enough to overcome Auburn's 7.
The bad news for Auburn is that those 7 runs could have and should have been much more. There were multiple innings in which the Tigers left the bases loaded and only managed to get 1 run out of it. The Tigers had bases-loaded and no outs in one inning where they only came away with 1 run. There were two instances where Josh Anthony came to the plate with the bases loaded and picked up a RBI on a single only to have Daniel Robert - BOTH times! - thrown out at the plate trying to get another RBI.
Every Tiger except Dylan Ingram picked up a hit in today's game against UCF. Will Holland led the team with 3RBIs thanks to his 8th inning 3-run homer. That proved to be critical given UCF's 2 in the 9th would have tied the game and squandered Thompson's pitching performance.
Auburn picked up exactly what it needed in Friday's win. The bats performed excellently and could have done even more. Keegan Thompson pitched 8 innings. Cole Lipscomb - having only thrown 1 inning - is available for more work this weekend should he be needed. Now, Auburn is still in the driver's seat and they'll have Casey Mize ready to go in the next game.
I fully expected - and, indeed, had a pre-write written - that the next game would be against Florida State. It sure looked like that was going to be the case when I left for dinner. Then, a funny thing happened. Tennessee Tech came back and won the game.
FSU and TTU were scoreless through most of their contest. The Seminoles picked up the first run of the game in the 6th for the 1-0 lead. TTU tied it in the 8th. Then, in the 9th, they picked up 2 more runs for the 3-1 lead and held on through the bottom half for the victory.
The sends Florida State to the losers bracket to take on Central Florida tomorrow morning. Auburn, meanwhile, faces Tennessee Tech at 6:00 pm Central tomorrow night. A picture is below, but you can still find the interactive bracket on the NCAA site.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Do the Tigers pitch Casey Mize or do they hold onto him for a potential match-up against FSU on Sunday? The answer, most likely, is that they will definitely pitch Mize. It's much better to go into that Regional Championship only needing one win to move on, and Mize gives Auburn the best chance to do that by pitching tomorrow night.
Don't sleep on TTU. They're the regular season and Ohio Valley Conference tournament champions. Knocking off FSU is no easy task, either. They'll be just as excited to be in the Winner's Bracket as Auburn is. They're also exactly the type of team that has given Auburn nightmares during midweek games over the course of the last few years.
Of course, Auburn doesn't pitch Casey Mize in the mid-week games.
The Tigers and the Golden Eagles will face off at 6:00 pm Central Saturday night. The game is currently slated to be an ESPN3 broadcast, only. If that changes, we'll let you know.
One down, two more to go to advance. The Tigers got exactly what they needed Friday afternoon. Now, let's see if Saturday can produce more of the same.