- FRI: 14-3 W
- SAT: 6-1 W
- SUN: 2-1 W/10
At times it wasn’t pretty, but in the end, everything came up roses. The kickoff of the 2021 campaign to get back to Omaha began exactly as you would have hoped if you were a Tiger fan, with Cody Greenhill going 5 innings of near perfect baseball, save for one bad pitch that went for a 2 run homer and an arrent throw to 1st that got a runner to 3rd and eventually score. However, the offense and bullpen had his back in a big way and Auburn looked the part of a team looking to make noise in the SEC with a 14-3 beat down of the Blue Hoes.
The rest of the weekend brought up some memories of Tiger teams in the past where stringing together hits seemed to be a recurring issue. Even Butch Thompson said it in the postgame Saturday evening, there were way too many fly ball outs (he said 12 and it felt like that many). The offense did get on the board early and often as the Tigers bashed 3 solo bombs (Ware, LaRue and Bliss) and Richard Fitts and a combination of 4 hurlers from the pen held Presbyterian to just 1 run on the way to a 6-1 series clincher.
Sunday was a different kind of nerve-wracking for this early in the season. A complete pitchers duel for 6 innings between Presbyterian’s Duncan Howard (both he and fellow freshman Charlie McDaniel on Saturday were absolutely brilliant) and Auburn hurler Mason Barnett, who is filling in for Jack Owen while he mends a dislocated finger, kept donuts on the board till the 6th inning when Auburn finally broke through for a run with a nice piece of situational hitting from Josh Hall who sac flied and scored Steven Williams. The lead was short lived however, as the Blue Hose scored in the next half inning to not everything up at 1. The pitchers duel would continue until the 10th inning when Rankin Woley would double down the line and Bobby Peirce would make his Auburn debut in the best way possible, a single back up the middle that would bring Rankin around. Now, in all truthfulness, I am not a fan of the obstruction rule. I am all for player safety, and by the letter of the law, Presbyterian catcher Jake Wyandt, who had a fantastic weekend behind the dish, was in the baseline that Woley has the right to, but here is my thought…I think Woley was safe anyway, and Auburn wins the game without a judgement call. It doesn’t matter either way, just my two cents. See what you think in the highlights below.
Anyway you slice it, Auburn got tested this weekend when they thought they could sort of toss the gloves and bats out there and get the win. Here’s a lesson learned for 2021…there will be none of those. Sure, there will be blowouts here and there, but you will have to work harder, longer for those. Everyone’s talent level has gone up because of Covid with returning players that should be pros or out of eligibility and younger players who should be in the minors but didn’t want to sign for a measly $20,000 signing bonus and decided to go to school for 3 years. Don’t even think that Butch Thompson and staff won’t make that abundantly clear to the team going forward.
It will be a busy week for the Tigers as they have their one and only two game mid week series of the year with Alabama A&M at Plainsman Park on Tuesday and Wednesday (both at 4 pm) before heading for the Round Rock Classic to take on Oklahoma (Fri), Baylor (Sat) and Texas A&M (Sun, non-conference). This will be a really nice test for the Tigers against some pretty good competition that will be hungry for wins as Texas A&M took some lumps against Xavier (who Auburn will see the following weekend) and OU has had trouble getting on the diamond and fell to Omaha when they did.