Mize, Tigers set for Weekend Clash with Tennessee
Casey Mize has struck out 24 batters over the last two games (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
Auburn Baseball (25-10, 8-4 SEC) continues their eight-game, four-city road trip this weekend, this time on Rocky Top to face the Tennessee Volunteers (17-13, 3-9 SEC). In their last game, Auburn defeated Samford in a slugfest in Birmingham. Despite having leads as large as eight runs at one point, Auburn took down Samford, 16-15, improving to 10-2 on the year in games that are decided by one run. With the game tied at one heading to the second inning, Auburn produced seven runs in the second, highlighted by a grand slam by Dylan Ingram, the first for Auburn in 276 games. Samford answered with five runs of their own in the bottom half, cutting the lead to 8-6. Auburn extended their lead to 16-8 over the last four innings by scoring two in the third, and three apiece in the fifth and sixth innings. The Bulldogs scored the game's’ final seven runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, cutting the lead to one. Daniel Robert would go on to close out the game, securing the one-run victory for Auburn. Daniel Robert and Conor Davis joined Ingram in collecting four RBI offensively, with Davis and Jonah Todd leading the way with four hits each. Auburn used six pitchers in the game, Calvin Coker earned the win by allowing three hits and two earned runs over 3.1 innings. Daniel Robert pitched the ninth, allowing a hit and earning the save. Starter Christian Camacho tossed 1.1 innings, allowing six runs on five hits and striking out two. Prior to the game at Samford, Auburn lost their first series of the season on the road at College Station to Texas A&M. The Tigers are currently tied at the top of the SEC West with Arkansas and Mississippi State at 8-4 in the league. Tennessee is coming off of a 10-2 mid-week loss to East Tennessee State on Tuesday. The Buccaneers jumped on Tennessee early by scoring six runs in the first two innings, ultimately taking a 10-0 lead over the Vols by the end of the five innings. Tennessee scored two runs in the sixth inning off of a passed ball, and a sacrifice fly. Tennessee won their first SEC series of the season last weekend on the road at Florida, by taking two of three. Each game in the series was decided by one run, and both Tennessee wins needed 10 innings to complete. Will Heflin hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th to win Friday’s game 7-6, and catcher Benito Santiago doubled home Justin Ammons in the 10th inning on Saturday’s game, giving Tennessee the series win, 3-2. The Volunteers had just won one SEC game on the season before the Florida series, taking the series opener against Georgia on March 31. Tennessee lost six straight SEC games before winning their first, sweep victims of Mississippi State and South Carolina. PITCHING: Auburn went with their third rotation combination of the season last weekend, by throwing Casey Mize on Friday, Keegan Thompson on Saturday, and Davis Daniel on Sunday. That rotation will remain the same for the Tennessee series. This combination of weekend pitchers has an 11-4 record with a 2.50 ERA. Mize had another dominant performance last Friday at Texas A&M by striking out 12 and allowing two hits in seven innings of work, earning the win. Mize’s 75 strikeouts on the season are the best in the SEC and rank 4th nationally. Keegan Thompson earned his first loss of the season on Saturday, his first game back from injury. He allowed three earned runs on four hits while striking out six in four innings. Daniel tossed 5.1 innings on Sunday, picking up the loss after allowing three runs to score on nine hits. It was announced this week that both Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize are finalists for the Golden Spike Award, an award given to the best amateur baseball player annually. Like Auburn, Tennessee will throw a righty-heavy rotation this weekend. Hunter Martin and Garrett Stallings on Thursday and Friday respectively, with Sunday’s starter to be announced. Martin is 4-2 in eight games with a career-high 47 strikeouts on the season. The longest outing of the season for Martin came last week at Florida, where he pitched 7.1 innings in the win. Stallings will get his third start of the season on Friday night, he currently carries at 2-0 record. Like Martin, Stallings pitched a career-best 6.1 innings in the win but did not factor in the decision. The freshman has an ERA of 3.00 with 23 strikeouts on the season. BATS: In Tuesday’s win over Samford, the trio of Daniel Robert, Dylan Ingram, and Conor Davis combined to record 12 RBI. Jonah Todd also had a great day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with 2 RBI. Todd continues to lead the team in average (.362) and runs scored (32). Robert’s home run on Tuesday moved his total to three, which is the team lead. He also leads the team in RBI (30), and stolen bases (8). Conor Davis has been on a hot streak over the last ten games, batting .320 with three doubles and eight RBI the freshman also hit the dramatic walk-off three-run home run over South Carolina on April 2. The key bats to watch for on Tennessee’s roster belong to Jordan Rodgers, Pete Derkay, and Andre Lipcius. Lipcius is batting .354 in SEC competition with 10 RBI, two triples, and a double. Last week, Derkay hit .500 with five walks for Tennessee. Speaking of walks, Derkay is the third most-walked batter in the SEC with 27 in 30 games, which also ranks #24 in the nation. Finally, Rodgers is third in the SEC with a .375 average and owns a team-best 29 RBI. His average speaks volumes, as he has reached base in all 29 games that he has played in this season. #10 Auburn Baseball begins a three-game set with Tennessee on Thursday beginning at 6 P.M. Thursday- 6 P.M. Friday- 5 P.M. Saturday- 1 P.M.