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Corvallis Super Regional: Bullpen Dominates as Tigers Pull Out Game 1

#14 Auburn @ #3 Oregon State

Game 1 (SAT): 7-5 W

It definitely wasn’t how Auburn drew it up to be sure. Trace Bright was not supposed to leave in the 1st, but he did. Auburn was not suppose to be able to get 7 runs on the board in Game 1 but they did. And the bullpen was not supposed to go 8.1 innings and give up a lone run in the 9th to a dynamic offence like Oregon State. But, they did. Auburn held on to a heart stopping 7-5 lead in the 9th to take Game 1 over the 3rd seeded Oregon State Beavers. Meaning, once again, they are 1 game away from the promised land that is Omaha.

I could start with the offense, where they kept up the pace they set last weekend. Sure, they didn’t throw up double digit runs and chase countless pitchers off, but they did enough to keep the pressure on the Oregon State defense and pitching staff. Rather, I will start with the side that everyone is talking about, the Auburn pitching staff.

I can remember back in February, I said on Orange and True that this Auburn team would go as far as the pitching staff would take them. That the offense would keep them in games and the defense would be there but Auburn would have to make pitches with this staff. Boy did they do that and more on Saturday night. After Trace was forced to make an exit in the 1st, John Armstrong came on and got the Tigers out of the inning with no more damage and then got two more outs in the 2nd before giving up a walk and getting the hook from Tim Hudson. Then, Auburn brought out the big guns. Tommy Sheehan came in and looked the best he has been all year for the Tigers. Sheehan went 3.1 giving up just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 3 and earning the win.

Skipper came in after that for 3 innings and was even stronger, surrendering just a walk while striking out 5 of the 10 batters he faced. In the 9th, Oregon State would make a push on Blake Burkhalter, getting an RBI double to cut the lead by one but Burkey would get a K on the next batter to finish things.

It was more than Butch Thompson and Tim Hudson could have asked for from this pen in the 1st inning and they gave it to them. On a night where Butch Thompson called it a ‘professional strike zone’, Auburn proved up to the task. Now they find themselves just 27 outs away from putting another year up on that Right Field wall, and having a chance to play for so much more.

Game 2 is Sunday evening at 9 pm on ESPN2.