Auburn defeats South Carolina behind Mize's Career Day
Casey Mize reached a career-high in innings and strikeouts in an SEC game in Auburn's 5-4 win over South Carolina Friday night (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
Auburn baseball returned to Plainsman Park Friday to open a top-25 weekend series with the 6th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. By scoring runs early, and making key plays late, the Tigers (22-6, 6-1 SEC) defeated South Carolina, 5-4 in front of a sell-out crowd of 4,096. The storyline heading into Friday’s series opener with #6 South Carolina, was pitching. Junior Keegan Thompson took himself out of last Friday’s game at Georgia, and coach Butch Thompson revealed this week that the ace of his staff would not make his usual Friday start. The solution was to move the remaining weekend starters up a day, starting with Casey Mize. In his first Friday start of his career, Mize struck out a SEC career-best 12 in his first complete-game showing. Mize took the opportunity and ran with it, striking out the first five Gamecocks of the night. His solid command continued through the night, as the sophomore earned 10 over five innings. After Mize retired the first three batters of the night, the Tigers ended the inning by scoring two on a combination wild pitch-error. South Carolina starter Wil Crowe threw a pitch to the left of catcher Chris Cullen. Cullen then overthrew Crowe, who was guarding home plate, allowing both Jonah Todd and Jay Estes to score. Auburn scored three more runs in the third inning, extending their lead to 5-0. With two on and two out, Josh Anthony delivered a double to center field, scoring Luke Jarvis and Daniel Robert. Bowen McGuffin brought Anthony home one at-bat later with a single to right field. South Carolina stormed back over the fifth and sixth innings, by getting one back in the fifth on a Madison Stokes groundout that scored Jacob Olson. The Gamecocks pulled within one run in the sixth, by scoring three runs in three consecutive at-bats. In a bases loaded situation following a walk and two singles, LT Tolbert reached base via a fielder’s choice, scoring Matt Williams. Jacob Olson and Carlos Cortes would follow up with two singles, scoring a run apiece. Mize overcame the sixth inning adversity by facing the minimum over the next two innings, picking up two more strikeouts. The Gamecocks made one final push in the ninth inning with two singles. But, in true fashion, Mize made the final out. Leadoff batter TJ Hopkins dropped a bunt that rolled to Mize, who then fired the ball to first baseman Daniel Robert, just beating the speedy center fielder. Auburn moves to 22-6 on the season, 6-1 in SEC play. The win moves them one game closer to tying their win total from last season. Josh Anthony was the leading batter for Auburn, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Seven different Tigers recorded a hit, with Daniel Robert joining Anthony with two hits. Jacob Olson and Carlos Cortes each picked up three hits and a RBI for South Carolina. Starter Wil Crowe pitched six innings, allowing eight hits and three earned runs while striking out six and walking one. Game two of the series is scheduled to begin at 5 P.M. Saturday. Davis Daniel gets the nod for Auburn, he will battle Clark Schmidt of South Carolina.