Auburn Advances to Double-Elimination Bracket with win over Ole Miss
Blake Logan's sixth inning home run moved Auburn ahead 4-3 in Tuesday's SEC Tournament opener against Ole Miss in Hoover, Alabama (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
The Auburn Baseball Tigers (35-22) waited patiently for their turn to hit the field at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Tuesday evening. But, when the time came, the Tigers did exactly what has made them successful all season. A dominant pitching performance followed by clutch late-game hitting led Auburn to a 5-4 win over Ole Miss (32-25) in the opening round of the SEC Baseball Tournament. Keegan Thompson started the game for the Tigers on five days rest. His last outing saw the junior toss six innings of no-hit baseball before lightning-shortened his stint on the mound. After four innings of work, Coach Butch Thompson did something that he has not done all season, that was to throw Casey Mize in a relief effort, the same day that Keegan Thompson started. “I just thought that this was a big game,” said Coach Butch Thompson during the postgame show on the Auburn Sports Network on the decision to pitch both aces of the usual weekend rotation. “The next thing on the agenda is to make this tournament big for our fans, for our ball club. I told this team that you have a legacy to get that started, and to let us know how important it is for this tournament for Auburn Baseball to cherish it, give our best effort. I can’t make that statement, and then try to do something else except try to be at our best, and put them in the best position to win a ballgame.” Both pitchers answered the call by striking out a total of 12 Rebel batters and allowing seven combined hits. Thompson threw just 41 pitches before being lifted in the fourth inning for Mize. Mize carried the load until the end for his team, striking out nine and allowing one earned run on three hits. “I felt a lot better than I have in the past few weeks,” said Mize, who has missed three-weekend series due to a nagging arm injury this season, including last Friday’s scheduled start against Ole Miss. “I threw a lot of fastballs and splitters and one slider. I stuck with that and it seemed to work for me.” Blake Logan scored what ended up being the game-winning run in the sixth inning on a solo home run, giving Auburn a 4-3 lead. Auburn scored once more on a wild pitch to extend their lead to 5-3. Ole Miss’ comeback effort fell short after not being able to capitalize on a Ryan Olenek solo home run that cut the Auburn lead to 5-4 in the top of the ninth inning. Ole Miss struck first by scoring two runs in the first two innings, both on doubles. Will Golsan scored from first base on a double by Nick Fortes to give the Rebels at 1-0 lead in the first inning, and Cooper Johnson’s RBI double extended the lead to 2-0 in the second inning. Ole Miss scored their second run after the first two batters of the inning struck out swinging. The Tigers scored their first runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Will Holland doubled home, Sam Gillikin, leaving two runners on base for the leadoff batter, Jonah Todd. Like he has all season long, Todd had no problem getting on base. The Birmingport native tripled, clearing the bases and giving Auburn the 3-2 lead heading into the fifth inning. Both teams traded blows in the sixth inning, scoring a run each. Golson scored on an error by Dylan Ingram after he reached base on a double to leadoff the inning. Auburn regained their lead and held onto it after Blake Logan drilled his third home run of the season over the left field wall, giving them the opening round win. The win was the first for Auburn in the SEC Tournament since the 2015 season. Todd, Logan, and Conor Davis each recorded multiple hits in the game, Todd led the team in RBI with two on his fourth-inning triple. Dylan Ingram extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the seventh inning. Next up for Auburn is a rematch with 1-seed Florida at approximately 7:30 Wednesday evening. Cole Lipscomb will get his first start of the season for Auburn, as he goes against Alex Faedo of the Gators. Auburn swept Florida to open the SEC season March 17-19 at Plainsman Park.