Game 2– #1 Florida vs Auburn
Sunday: 3-2 W
Meaningful games in June are why people care about college baseball. Sure, it’s a very singular approach to the game but if you purify it down, that’s what it is. Fans of teams around the country want to see their school/team playing in games that mean something this time of year. Whether it’s for survival of a season, a chance to be regional champions or to go to Omaha, let the games mean something for my team.
The 2018 version of the Auburn Tigers have played in 2 of those and Monday night they hit the trifecta as they are 1 win away from the College World Series after a walk off 3-2 winner against the Florida Gators. First off, for those of you that aren’t every day college baseball fans we need to explain this to you. In Regional and Super Regional play, teams alternate who is the “home team” the first 2 games when one team is a higher seed than the other. Game 3 is selected by a coin toss. This is to reward both teams for the great season they have had and to decide who truly is the better team, even though one team has the home crowd and has played 30-40 games in their home park. So, with that said, lets dive into one of the better games of the season.
Tanner Burns got the Game 2 start for Auburn and was more than you could have asked. The freshman went 6+ innings, allowing one run on 5 hits with 4 walks and 3 strikeouts sprinkled in. The strike zone was a touch inconsistent at times and earlier this season that would have affected Burns but he worked right through it, getting into trouble in multiple innings but had the perseverance to work through it. A 4th inning RBI double from Horvath scoring Reese was the only blemish to show. The Auburn offense was up to the task though as Steven Williams was able to answer in the bottom half to tie the game at 1. The pitching staffs for both team’s took over until the 8th when Will Holland was finally able to break through in the 8th, scoring Josh Anthony from 2nd and Auburn held a 2-1 lead into the 9th.
Cody Greenhill came in for Burns in the 7th and was as solid as you could have asked except for 1 pitch to Lanworthy in the 9th as he was able to tie the game on a solo bomb to right field. Greenhill for the day went 3 innings of one run, two hit ball with a walk and a K. He was also able to get out of a huge situation in the 8th where Florida had the go ahead run at 3rd with 1 out and was able to work around it thanks to the Auburn defense and his one strike out of the day.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Auburn offense finally got room to work. Brendan Venter worked a walk. After a pitching change during the next at bat in which 2 pitchers combined to strike out Julien, Jay Estes was able to bloop a single into short left to put runners at 1st and 2nd. That brought up the man of the hour, Luke Jarvis…
It was a fantastic game as both teams played winning baseball, and it also means we get 1 more game between these 2 teams. The loser has a bright future next season. The winner…well we all know what the winner gets.
Welp, here we go. One game for all of it…to go to Omaha. When you were a kid, this is what you dreamed of. Either to send your team to Omaha or to win it. Monday night, both Auburn and Florida have the chance to live that. Andrew Mitchell will toe the rubber for Auburn, as he should. For the Tigers in the bullpen, all hands will be on deck, save Burns and perhaps Mize. Butch Thompson has already said Davis Daniel will be available for tomorrow, as well as the Cobra Calvin Coker, Welby, Elliott and any one else the Auburn brass believes can get Auburn through the game. For Florida, it will more than likely be Tommy Mace on the hill. Mace is a Freshman from Tampa and seems to be the heir apparent for the Friday night role next season for the Gators. He has been good this year but has also run into trouble after the first time through the lineup as teams get a look at him. He was good last week vs FAU but ran into trouble that ended up costing the Gators Game 6 of the regional. This should be an offensive game and I think that favors the Gators from the top of the lineup, but as Auburn showed today, they can attack you 1-9, not just 1-5. This is an absolute toss up at this point. I thought it would go to 3 games and thank goodness it does. We get at least one more Auburn baseball game this season, and I can’t thank Luke Jarvis and the rest of his teammates for it!