Recap and Reaction: Tigers Take Series from LSU to Close Regular Season

May 20, 2018 By Taylor Jones

Will Holland (17)Auburn baseball vs LSU on Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. Photo: Wade Rackley /Auburn Athletics

Auburn Baseball’s success at home continues as the Tigers take two-of-three games from LSU. Following the series win, Auburn will travel to the SEC Tournament as the 7-seed in Hoover

What a way to send out the seniors.

Auburn (37-19, 15-15) takes two of three from LSU to close out the regular season, outscoring the visiting Bayou Bengals, 27-15. Thursday and Saturday’s games featured two phenomenal performances from the mound, and at the plate from Auburn, while Friday’s game featured a tight pitching battle with LSU squeezing it out in the end.

Auburn will have two days off before playing again. Auburn draws Kentucky in the opening round of the SEC Tournament that will be held at the Hoover Met on Tuesday afternoon. The momentum gained in this series will need to be carried with them in order for the Tigers to go deep into SEC Tournament play.

THURSDAY- AUBURN 11 LSU 4

Tanner Burns (7) Auburn baseball vs LSU on Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Auburn, Ala.Photo: Wade Rackley /Auburn Athletics

The law firm does it again.

For the fifth time this season, the filthy freshmen combination of right-handers Tanner Burns and Cody Greenhill combined to give Auburn the win. Burns was moved up two days in the rotation, in order to give junior Casey Mize a full seven days of rest. The decision proved to be a solid choice by coach Butch Thompson, as Burns’ first start against LSU saw him strike out four batters in six innings while allowing only two earned runs in Auburn’s 11-4 win. In what has become the norm, Greenhill relieved Burns by slamming the door with three scoreless innings and two strikeouts.

Four Auburn batters had multiple RBI, led by Brendan Venter’s three. Venter had three hits, with two multi-base hits scoring his three runs. A two-out double capped a four-run 2nd inning, giving Auburn a 5-0 lead at the time. His final two RBI came on a double in the bottom of the 7th inning to score Will Holland. Jay Estes’ RBI single one at-bat later scored the 11th, and final, run of the game for Auburn. Both Venter (11) and Estes (9) extended their hitting streaks in the win.

Will Holland had a weekend to remember, starting in Thursday’s game. The sophomore earned his first four-hit game while picking up two RBI. Steven Williams hit his 10th home run of the season in the bottom of the 7th inning, which was a two-run blast to right field. Brett Wright joined Holland and Williams with 2 RBI. The first five batters in the Auburn lineup on Thursday were responsible for 9 of 10 earned runs in the game.

SATURDAY- LSU 6 AUBURN 2

Casey Mize (32) Auburn baseball vs LSU on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Auburn, Ala.Photo: Wade Rackley /Auburn Athletics

In what was expected to be the final regular-season start of Casey Mize’s spectacular Auburn career, one rough inning is what kept the projected first-overall draft pick from leaving on a winning note.

Mize, along with LSU starting pitcher Ma’Khail Hilliard had great outings on Friday night, with both pitchers recording at least seven strikeouts each. Auburn carried a 2-0 lead into the 6th inning, that was when the LSU bats surged.

With one down in the inning, Zach Watson doubled to bring up one of the best hitters on LSU’s roster, Antoine Duplantis. Duplantis’ single sent home Watson, cutting the Auburn lead to one run. Duplantis later scored on a double by Austin Bain, Bain also scored on an RBI double by Daniel Cabrera. Beau Jordan capped scoring in the inning by singling home Bain. A sequence of six batters shifted momentum towards LSU, and they would go on to keep it. When the dust settled, Auburn looked to see that they were now trailing LSU, 4-2. Mize was replaced after 6 innings. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits while striking out nine batters.

LSU pitching would go on to retire 10 of the last 12 batters that Auburn would send to the plate and pick up two insurance runs to give them the win. Auburn’s lone run came in the bottom of the 2nd inning, on a Josh Anthony single that scored Conor Davis and Luke Jarvis. Will Holland continued his amazing series at the plate by going 3-for-4 with a double.

 

SUNDAY- AUBURN 14 LSU 5

Andrew Mitchell (12) Auburn baseball vs LSU on Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Auburn, Ala.Photo: Wade Rackley /Auburn Athletics

When four batters in the lineup record three hits each, with three of them also picking up four RBI and nailing at least one long ball, that’s usually the headline of the morning paper. However, personally, I can not help but show my gratitude towards senior left-hander Andrew Mitchell.

Listening to Rod Bramblett of the Auburn Sports Network on Saturday tell the story of Mitchell, a native of New Orleans who began his career at LSU but was ultimately cut from the squad and forced to enroll at Delgado College before finding a home at Auburn, made me cheer even more as he continued to rack up career numbers.

Mitchell got the nod to start on the mound on the final day of the regular season, in front of the home crowd, and went on to pitch a career-high seven innings while tying his career-best with nine strikeouts without issuing a walk, all against his former team.

“It was just a tremendous day and was great to see him do that – to get us seven innings of work,” said Coach Butch Thompson following the game.

The offense did their part in keeping Mitchell stress free during his outing, by giving him a 10-run cushion before he called it a day. Edouard Julien, Luke Jarvis, Josh Anthony, and, you guessed it, Will Holland, each had three hits. Julien, Holland, and Jarvis each had a home run, and added four RBI to their line. Impressive day all-around.

Auburn and LSU were tied at 2 heading into the bottom of the 4th inning until Auburn used the long ball to gain a comfortable lead.

Luke Jarvis nailed a three-run shot to score Julien and Jay Estes, ending an eight-pitch at-bat with zero outs. Holland joined the party by hitting his 9th home run of the season to left center, which was good enough to score 2 runs. Auburn took a 7-2 lead into the 5th inning.

Auburn would add seven more runs over the last three innings, headlined by a three-run home run by Julien, his 14th of the season, and the second two-run dinger of the day off the bat of Holland.

LSU scored three more runs in the 8th inning. In a rather questionable move, Cody Greenhill was used to finish the gem that Mitchell started. Greenhill, who is usually used in save situations in SEC contests, was brought in with a 12-run lead. In the third pitch of his outing, Nick Webre hit a solo home run to right field to cut the lead to 14-3. A walk, a fielder’s choice, and a single loaded the bases for Beau Jordan, who scored two on a single to left-center field. The two runs were unearned, due to the two baserunners reaching on a fielder’s choice and an error. Greenhill remained in the game in the 9th inning, to close out the game and to give Auburn the 14-5 win.

REACTION

Auburn accomplished everything I had hoped they would this weekend. Auburn plays well at home, LSU was 3-12 entering the weekend in true road games. If you take away the 6th inning of Friday nights game, Auburn could have easily swept this series. The bats were hot, pitching was nearly perfect, it was a great weekend at the ballpark for the orange and blue Tigers.

Could their success at home transition into a venue that’s located 116 miles north of Plainsman Park? Auburn is 6-2 in the state of Alabama away from Auburn, including a huge three-game sweep in Tuscaloosa where the Tigers outscored the Crimson Tide 44-10. Auburn opens the SEC Tournament against 10-seed Kentucky on Tuesday afternoon at 1 pm at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, which is located 116 miles from Auburn’s campus. Of course, pitching will have to be carefully strategized, but if the offense’s home success continues in Hoover, the Tigers could be there for a while.

If you can, invest some of this week’s paycheck into going to Hoover and watching the Tigers. They are hitting the ball well, Tanner Burns and Casey Mize may get an opportunity to show out in front of a big crowd, it will be a great use of your time and money to watch these guys.