SEC Tournament: Offense Stumbles in Loss to Texas A&MMay 25, 2018
Auburn ace Casey Mize got the start in #7 Auburn’s (39-20, 15-15) third game of the SEC Tournament. Mize turned in a respectable outing but that was not enough to earn a win over a hot #11 Texas A&M team, as Aggie pitching cooled down the streaking Tiger bats, downing Auburn 4-2. Auburn’s road to a tournament crowd takes a detour to the loser’s bracket, which sets up a rematch with Ole Miss on Friday
Auburn had confidence heading into their game with a fellow lower-seeded 2-0 team, Texas A&M on Thursday. The Tigers had just defeated Ole Miss, using a grand slam by Edouard Julien in the 9th inning to seal the deal on Wednesday, and were sending out a potential first-round pick in the upcoming MLB Draft in Casey Mize to the mound against the #11-seed Aggies. All the Tigers needed to do on Thursday was to defeat Texas A&M, and they would earn a much-needed off day on Friday.
Well, some things are just not meant to be. According to Coach Butch Thompson, his team just simply ran out of time.
“Yesterday it worked out. We got to the ‘pen and scored some runs after six shutout innings,” Thompson said following the loss. “Tonight, it was a little bit deeper. I just told the guys I thought we ran out of innings.”
While this was not one of his best starts, Mize’s appearance in Hoover was respectable. The junior allowed four runs over 7.2 innings, striking out seven batters and not issuing a walk. His command was strong early, as he retired the first seven Aggie batters he faced. The first two hits that were allowed came in the third inning, one resulted in the first run of the game for Texas A&M.
George Janca singled to get the Aggies in the hit column and later advanced to 2nd base on a wild pitch. After striking out Cole Bedford for the 2nd out of the inning, leadoff batter Zach Deloach singled to right-center field to score Janca, giving Texas A&M the 1-0 lead.
Mize got back into a groove, by again retiring seven of the next eight batters faced. After striking out Bedford to open the 6th, the Aggies extended their lead with two straight singles, followed by a double from Braden Shewmake that cleared the bases and grew the lead to 3-0.
The final run for Texas A&M came in the 8th inning on a sacrifice fly by Deloach in the 8th inning. That was the play that pulled the plug on Mize’s day. Welby Malzcewski took over and recorded the final out.
Mize’s counterpart had total control of Auburn’s offense. In a late move, Texas A&M coach Rob Childress elected to start John Doxakis at pitcher instead of previously announced Mitchell Kilkenny, and that turned out to be a wise decision.
Auburn had a small number of baserunners on Doxakis’ watch, but the Tigers did not pick up their first hit until the top of the 8th inning. Jay Estes dropped a perfectly placed ground ball toward the right side of the infield, and beat out the throw to first to end Doxakis’ no-hit bid. Two at-bats later, Conor Davis launched a line drive that bounced off the wall in center field, scoring Estes and cutting the Aggies lead to 4-1. Doxakis’ day ended on that note, making way for Nolan Hoffman to keep Texas A&M’s lead in tact.
Auburn still had “comeback” on their minds heading into the 9th inning.
With one out in the inning, Brett Wright and Judd Ward found themselves on base thanks to a hit-by-pitch, and single respectfully, bringing up the most clutch bat late in games, Edouard Julien. In Auburn’s wins over Kentucky and Ole Miss in Hoover, the “Canadian Crusher” hit a walk-off single and a grand slam home run all in the final inning of those games. With two runners on base in a situation where the Tigers were down by three runs, the moment was bright for the freshman. Julien struck out, however, leaving those two runners on with two outs.
Estes was next, and looked to try his hand in the comeback effort. He earned an infield single to third base, and that was enough to score Wright from third base, cutting the Aggie lead in half, 4-2. Luke Jarvis grounded out in the next at-bat, ending the game.
Estes picked up two hits in game, which marks the third consecutive game that Estes has collected two hits.
Auburn and Ole Miss, part two, is set for an early Friday evening tilt. Both teams are needing a win in order to continue their journey towards a tournament crown. First pitch is scheduled for 3 pm at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, broadcasted live on the SEC Network and Auburn Sports Network.
The Rebels defeated Georgia on Thursday to stay alive, needing extra innings to do so.
Tied 3-3 heading into the 10th inning, Georgia struck first on a LJ Talley long ball to right field. However, the Rebels responded on an RBI double by Thomas Dillard and an RBI single by Tim Rowe gave them the win in the bottom of the inning. Dillard, as well as Nick Fortes, Grae Kessinger, Will Golsan, and Chase Cockrell had two hits in the contest for Ole Miss.
As of the time of publishing, the starting pitchers have not been announced for either team.