#14 Auburn @ #3 Oregon State
- Game 3 (MON): 4-3 W
They only got 3 hits.
It didn’t matter
They only had 9 base runners all night.
It didn’t matter.
Twice, Oregon State had runners in scoring position with Melton and Bazzana up with chances to tie or take the lead.
That too, didn’t matter.
Auburn did enough. The Tigers, the team, did enough to get past the #3 team in the NCAA tournament on their home field and push this team to Omaha for the second time in 3 tournaments.
Trust me, it wasn’t the prettiest game Auburn has ever played, but then again it was. Auburn didn’t commit any of the errors that plagued the Tigers on Sunday night. They protected the ball, got the outs and capitalized when they could on the base pads. They did what good teams do. And it is now official, this is one of the six best Auburn baseball teams the program has produced.
On the field, Mason Barnett was solid after his insane game against UCLA last Sunday night. Barnett went 4.1 giving up a run on 5 hits with 3 walks while striking out 5. In the 5th he got into a little trouble after a safe call on a close play at 1st base and Carson Skipper was called on to get out of the 1 out jam. He did so with gusto, getting 2 Ks to finish the frame. Skipper would go 2 innings, only making one real mistake on a 2 run bomb that cut the lead to 1. All told though, he only surrendered those 2 runs with 3 hits and a walk while striking out 4. Blake Burkhalter would come on and do something that had my stomach in knots, try to get a 2.2 inning save. Not only did Burkey do it, he did it in style, retiring all 8 batters he faced including the top of the order in the 9th and leaving the Beavers All Everything hitter Jacob Melton in the on deck circle.
At the plate, it was not a night to write home about. Auburn put plenty of balls in play, mostly on the ground, but wasn’t able to string together any real hits. Sonny was 2 for 2 on the evening and scared us all half to death when he pulled up lame at 3rd on a Bobby Peirce base knock. Sonny would be fine after a little stretch and would score on a ground out. Sonny’s other hit was a bit more to form.
Back to the 6th inning. the Omaha clinching run, was a microcosm of this team.
Brody Moore, the heartbeat of this team, along with Kason Howell, was the guy. Sure, it was a bit too strong down the line. Sure, a better throw probably gets Bobby. But it didn’t and Auburn got the run.
Like I said, this won’t be a technical masterpiece. This won’t go up next to Bruce and the boys against Kentucky. It isn’t the Cam-Back or the Kick Six.
Here’s the thing, it didn’t have to be.
Why’s that? Because this win sent Auburn to Omaha. And damn it, that’s always good enough for me.
Well, if you didn’t know Auburn has, at the very least, two more games left in its season. If the Tigers put 3 in a row together, they are in the National Championship series. The best way I can explain this first part of Omaha is, think of it as the Regionals. 4 teams, double elimination in your bracket. So for Auburn, you are worried with 2) Stanford, Arkansas and Ole Miss. Don’t even worry with those other 4 teams, you will see them if you see them. If Auburn can do what they did at the Auburn Regional and win 3 in a row, they would meet that other survivor and play for the trophy.
Auburn’s first step is the Ole Miss Rebels. Ole Miss has been a different team since the tournament began. They were able to get Kevin Graham healthy and the pitching staff is hitting on all cylinders. Oh and they have Mr Ole Miss Tim Elko still doing the things he does with a bat.
The Rebs have swept through the Tournament with a smooth 5-0 after dispatching of Miami, Arizona and Southern Miss (along with Canisius but...yeah).
The best news is that Auburn knows the Rebels pretty well so nothing should really surprise Auburn here. The bad news is the same thing can be said for the Rebels. Ole Miss took 2 out of 3 against Auburn in the opening weekend of SEC play, however, that was without Joseph Gonzalez on the mound for Auburn. It will be interesting to see if Auburn pushes Gonzo on 6 days rest or if they will hold him for the Monday game against either Stanford or Arkansas. If you haven’t already done so, follow myself (@Drewmac20AU) or Plainsman Parking Lot for all the info on Auburn and the CWS at large.
Auburn plays Saturday night at 6 pm on ESPN2 while Stanford and Arkansas play at 1 pm. On the other side of the bracket, Texas A&M and Oklahoma start the CWS at 1 on Friday while Texas and Notre Dame night cap Day 1 at 6 pm. The other 3 games outside of Auburn are on ESPN.
What a journey. What a team. I can honestly say I didn’t see this one coming. I thought this squad was good enough to host a regional if the pitching staff went above and beyond. If they won that regional, fantastic, that was the peak for me. Well, this team blew the doors off of that. They will now be forever remembered on the right field wall. A wall that, by the way is starting to get crowded. You can thank Butch Thompson for that (and Auburn SHOULD AND HAD BETTER THANK HIM HOWEVER BUTCH FEELS IS BEST, but that can be taken care of in July).
These are now the golden times for Auburn baseball. Enjoy them Auburn fans, especially if you are new to the Plainsman Park family.
If you have been here for the lean years, I don’t even have to tell you to enjoy them. You know the struggle of the Tom Slater years, the Galloway years, the uncertainty of how that all finished. All those players, all the players before that, they are all part of this too. They get to enjoy it. The steps that they helped form and maintain, they all built to this. They all built to a program that is going back to Omaha just 3 short years after they were last there. Before I leave you, let’s watch the dog pile one more time, and here’s to seeing one more on the largest stage College Baseball has to offer.