Alabama @ #21 Auburn
- Friday: 5-1 W
- Saturday: 7-6 L
- Sunday: 17-7 W
Gabe Gross must have been wondering where this Sunday offense had been all season. For just the second time in a SEC game this season the Tigers put up 17 runs that included a 9 run 8th inning to run away from Alabama and take the series from the Tide. The weekend wasn’t without it’s missteps, however when the Tigers needed the big hit in all 3 games, they were able to get it. In fact, if it wasn’t for Rankin Woley getting hit on the arm in an at bat that forced him to be pulled from the Saturday game and sit out Sunday, we are probably talking about a sweep instead of just the series win. That said, Auburn did exactly what they needed to do this weekend. It all started with Jack Owen coming back in style, going 5 innings and only giving up a run while the offense was on point for a Friday night after Sam Finnerty got banged up and was forced to leave after just one inning.
While Saturday turned out to be a lost cause, it did yield one of the smartest base running plays I’ve seen in a long time. Ryan Bliss took off from first to try and steal second and was able to make it safely…then the fun began.
Sunday saw a team effort from the pitching staff including Richard Fitts and Bailey Horn looking good and the offense looking like the team of old, scoring 8 runs up to the 7th inning and then dropping a 9 spot of the Tide in the 8th to close things going away.
All of this and OH BY THE WAY, Auburn went without Tanner Burns all weekend in what has been called a break more than anything else. It comes at a good time as Auburn has 5 home games left, in which Tanner will throw one, and then the Tigers hit the road to Baton Rouge to take on LSU to wrap up the regular season.
Pitching Performance of the Weekend
Earlier this season, Bailey Horn was looked to as a guy that might be able to bounce back from surgery and provide an extra arm incase of injury. Well the injuries came as Bailey tried to find his way in his return. It’s been a few weeks but Horn came in Sunday and provided some big outs even though it was just 4 of them. Horn went 1.1 innings with only a walk mark on his line as he was able to pick up the win. It would be huge if Auburn can count on Horn to give them an inning or two of clean work from here on in as the Tigers look for reliable arms to stitch up games from start to close.
Batting Performance of the Weekend
It’s been well documented how this season has been a struggle for some of the Auburn batters, namely Will Holland. Holland was highly touted this offseason as a 1st round shoe-in for the MLB draft. While his glove has without question stayed at that caliber, the bat has not followed as Holland dipped below the .200 BA line before this weekend. Friday it looked like the struggle would continue with an 0 for 4 night but Saturday was a brand new day and outlook. Over the last 18 innings, Holland went 6 for 8 with 5 Runs scored, 5 RBIs, a double and a monster home run to put the cherry on top. I know I say this a lot but if he can keep up production like that along with what Conor Davis is doing…watch out.
With Finals over, Auburn can concentrate solely on baseball at the exact right time. The Tigers play host to the UAB Blazers Tuesday at Plainsman Park with a 6 pm start time. Auburn took down UAB back in March with a 13-5 decision. Following that, the competition ratchets up in a big way as Top 5 Georgia comes to town. The Bulldogs just clinched a spot in Hoover with a sweep of the Gators in Athens. Auburn expects to get Burns back and could have the rotation as strong as it has been since SEC play started with Burns, Owen and a mix of either Fuller or Fitts so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. We will get into that later but for now, Auburn beat Alabama and that’s good enough no matter what game we are playing.