Southern Cal @ Auburn
- FRI: 5-3 W
- SAT: 12-6 W
- SUN: 12-12 Tie
It was supposed to look different than it did. Auburn was supposed to bat first. There we supposed to be fewer Auburn fans, though I know the Southern California Auburn Club would have been there in force. Joseph Gonzalez was supposed to do his thing and shut down the Trojans in Game Two of the series. However, as baseball normally ends up, what was supposed to happen, didn’t. Auburn would be able to host the series against a rebuilding USC ball club due to the first Blizzard Warning in Southern California since the 80s but would have to do so without their ace as he sat this weekend as a precaution due to some shoulder soreness.
As far as the series goes, it was an well matched series on both sides of the ball for the Tigers and showed that the Trojans are headed in the right direction. On Friday, Auburn’s offense was held at bay for the most part with USC’s first wave of Arms. Tyler Stromsborg was excellent for 3 innings until the Tigers were able to get a pair of 2 run doubles from Cole Foster and Bobby Peirce to quickly erase a Trojan 1-0 lead. In the end, that would be enough as the teams would trade runs for the Auburn win. Chase Allsup was able to work his way out of a bases loaded jam with no outs in the 3rd and limited damage to just a run across in the 4th when he gave way to John Armstrong would was the good luck winner, throwing 2 pitches and getting the win. Tanner Bauman continued his hot start, going 3.2 innings, giving up two runs on a hit with 3 BB and 3 Ks on the day. Will Cannon got the first save of his weekend going 1.1 surrendering 2 hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Saturday, with Joseph Gonzales taking a precautionary weekend off to rest a sore shoulder, the Tigers needed the offense to show up in a big way. For the first 3 innings, it looked like Jaden Agassi, yes…Andre and Steffi Graf’s son, and the Trojans just had Auburn’s number as the Tigers could only muster a hit and needed a walk and a HBP to get to a runner to second base. By that time, the Trojans had touched up Christian Herberholz for 3 runs, including a ‘throw it around the infield’ play that allowed a Trojan to go up 3-0 going to the 4th. That’s when the fun began. From the 4th inning on, Auburn’s offense combined for 12 runs on 13 hits to put away the Trojans and the series. On the mound, Tommy Vail continued to prove he can be a bridge guy, going 1.2 innings, giving up a hit with 2 walks and 2 strike outs. John Armstrong came back in to get the win, going more than his 2 pitches the day prior, 1.2 innings with 3 runs surrendered with a hit, 3 walks and a strikeout. Once again Will Cannon cam on for the Save after USC had cut the Auburn lead down to 2 runs.
Sunday was the odd day and it was supposed to be from the beginning. Auburn would need to piece together an effort from the pitching staff that had been over taxed from an arms stand point, while also getting a solid effort from the offense. Chase Isbell was called on to start the effort and that didn’t start off well as USC opened up for 4 runs in the first 4 batters (2-2 run homers), and chased Isbell before he could record an out. Zach Crotchfelt came in relief and did well for just his second appearance in college ball, going 3.2 innings giving up 4 runs on 4 hits with 2 walks and 3 strike outs. After that flurry to start, it was all Auburn as the Tigers over took USC and was able to grab an 8-4 lead after 3 innings. From then on, the teams would trade 4 run cards until the final finish of 12-12 after 9 due to USC needing to get to Atlanta and catch their flight back to So Cal.
It was a series that almost wasn’t, but in the end, it really couldn’t have gone much better for Auburn. There was confidence built both on the mound and at the plate while the Tigers saw some of those normal stars, Cole Foster, Nate LaRue and Bobby Peirce, all get back to their normal of driving in runs and causing havoc on the base pads. And they got to do all of this in front of the home crowd.
The Tigers home stand continues this week as Auburn plays host to Florida A&M on Wednesday for a 6 PM first pitch. This weekend the Tigers will host a hot Lipscomb squad who has series wins over Notre Dame and Illinois-Chicago so far this season. Friday and Sunday will be on the SEC Network+ with 6 PM and 1 PM start times for those matchups. Saturday’s game will be a 2 PM, an hour after Senior Day gets underway over at Neville Arena against Tennessee for the basketball folks, so parking will be at a premium.