Auburn Opens Raleigh Regional with Familiar Foe

June 1, 2018 By Taylor Jones

Tanner Burns Photo: Wade Rackley /Auburn Athletics

Auburn Baseball (39-21) opens regional play on Friday in Raleigh, North Carolina, which will be the first time since 2003 that the Tigers have participated in regionals in back-to-back years. Auburn’s first opponent is the Northeastern Huskies (36-19), a team that visited the Plains March 9-10 in a three-game series. We re-visit that series, as well as check in on both team’s progress since that weekend

The day was March 9, 2018. The Northeastern Huskies have arrived at Plainsman Park, ready to begin a three-game set with the 13-0 Auburn Tigers.

The series is a special one, because of a neat family connection. In the opposing dugout, Coach Mike Glavine is getting his team ready to face the squad that his nephew, Peyton, plays for. Peyton’s father is none other than Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine and is Mike’s older brother. While that was an interesting tidbit about the series, no one was prepared for the events that were about to unfold in game one of the Auburn-Northeastern series.

Junior right-hander Casey Mize had lived up to the hype surrounding him before the season. The Springville native’s draft stock keeps climbing, all the way to number-one in multiple mock drafts. Despite his innings and strikeouts not reaching full potential, Mize had not faltered in three starts as he carried a 3-0 record into his fourth start of the season. The Friday night start against Northeastern was the night that Mize had “gotten loose”, and Auburn fans were treated to a spectacular performance that ended in a no-hitter, the first in Mize’s career and the 9th in program history, the first since 2002.

Following the game, Mize placed the praise everywhere but himself.

“It was pretty awesome,” Mize said following Auburn’s 6-0 win. “I’m happy with how everyone played tonight. My defensive did a really good job. Luke Jarvis made some great plays in the four hole. Conor Davis catching that ball in the third inning was a great play. With no-hitters, there always seems to be that great play, and Conor’s was a really good one. With Brett Wright behind the plate, we’re connecting really well and I’m thankful for him. He was a wall back there for me, and we have complete trust in each other.”

Mize did not allow a hit, nor did he allow a walk, and struck out 13. The only set back was a throwing error by Will Holland in the 4th inning that allowed the only baserunner of the game for the Huskies. Auburn also extended their win streak to 14 games.

The next day called for a doubleheader, due to inclement weather expected in the area on Sunday. The Tigers took game one, 14-8, behind a three-RBI day from Steven Williams, Brendan Venter, and Brett Wright. In game two, Northeastern’s Sean Mellen struck out eight batters en route to a 2-1 win, giving Auburn their first loss of the 2018 season.

Auburn won their conference-opening series against Texas A&M but went on to fall in the following three series against Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas before taking the series at home against Mississippi State. The Tigers ended SEC play with a 15-15 record, and had their best showing at the SEC Tournament in Hoover in 15 years, playing in four games and leaving with a 2-2 record.

Northeastern won 6-of-8 conference series in the Colonial Athletic Association, finishing 17-6. The Huskies earned their NCAA bid by making it to the CAA championship game against UNC-Wilmington, losing 7-4.

On Friday, Auburn and Northeastern meet again. This time, on the first stretch of road leading to Omaha, that begins in Raleigh, North Carolina.

AUBURN vs. NORTHEASTERN NOTES

Tanner Burns (6-4, 3.13 ERA) will get the nod for Auburn on the mound, dueling with Tyler Brown (8-3, 4.20 ERA). Both started a game in the early season series, both taking a loss.

Brown started the second game of the series against Auburn on May 10, striking out three batters over five innings in a losing effort. In the game, five Tigers hit home runs (Steven Williams, Edouard Julien, Brett Wright, Josh Anthony, Brendan Venter). Burns started the final game of the series, allowing two earned runs on five hits in the 2-1 loss. Cody Greenhill struck out four batters in 4.2 innings of relief.

Offensively, Brendan Venter and Brett Wright hit two home runs in game two of the series. Wright became the first Auburn player to hit two long balls in the same game since Anfernee Grier in 2016, when he launched two in game two of the series.

Jay Estes and Edouard Julien enter the regional following an amazing run in the SEC Tournament. Estes recorded two hits in each of Auburn’s first three games of the tournament, en route to a 7-for-15, 3 RBI week. Julien had 5 RBI, four of them coming on a grand slam against Ole Miss on Wednesday, his third of the season.

Jake Farrell leads Northeastern in all major offensive categories (.341 average, 74 hits, 15 doubles, 7 triples, 11 HR, 61 RBI)

Auburn and Northeastern battle in Raleigh on Friday at 1 P.M. The game will be broadcasted on the WatchESPN app, as well as your local Auburn Sports Network affiliate.