Catcher Blake Logan led the way offensively with three hits while Anfernee Grier added a pair of hits and reached base four times for the Tigers. Getting consistent production up and down the lineup was huge said Coach Sunny Golloway, but the key to the win started on the mound with Thompson.
“I thought our guys played pretty well,” Golloway said. “Two keys to the game were Keegan Thompson’s fastball command, I kept asking him how he felt, he pitched in cold weather last week. With a full week’s rest he said he felt good because he had his fastball command.
“Keegan’s fastball command makes our program better,” he added. “Then we had timely hits tonight. We’ve had guys in scoring position a lot. There was one game when we sacrifice bunted against Radford four times and got guys in scoring position and didn’t score any of them. We got a lot of timely hitting today. Those two factors, I thought we were better at today. We just had a good, solid performance against a good Georgia Tech team.”
Coming off a loss last week at South Alabama, Thompson was dominant from start to finish in picking up his second win of the season. Agreeing with Golloway, the sophomore said his success was all due to location.
“Today I located the fastball,” Thompson said. “That’s what I have been struggling with the last two outings and I had it today. I did a lot better today.”
Following a pair of scoreless innings to start the game Auburn jumped on top of the visiting Yellow Jackets with a pair of runs in the third. Extending his hitting streak to 11 games with a leadoff single, Anfernee Grier was on second when Jordan Ebert reached on a one-out walk to bring Daniel Robert to the plate. The big first baseman laced a single to left field to load the bases for the middle of the order.
Continued to provide offense, freshman DH Hunter Tackett lifted a fly ball deep enough to score Grier and put Auburn on the board. Left fielder Sam Gillikin followed with a single to score Ebert and stake Thompson to a 2-0 lead.
With the sophomore dominating the Yellow Jackets, Auburn came back for more in the fourth. A leadoff double by Logan, one of his three hits, started the rally for the Tigers and when Grier singled up the middle Auburn was once again in business. Facing strength of the Auburn order, the Yellow Jackets didn’t fare well as Damon Haecker singled home Logan before an Ebert fly ball made it a four-run lead.
Auburn broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth with a huge three-run inning to give Thompson more than enough to win on this night. The big blow came off the bat of third baseman Kyler Deese. Hitting just .050 when he stepped to the plate, the Auburn native uncorked a triple to right-center to score two of the three runs in the inning. He later scored on a Haecker fielder’s choice for the 7-0 lead.
Georgia Tech scratched across a single run off Thompson in the sixth inning, but that would be it for the visitors on this night as Auburn closer Justin Camp finished things off with a pair of scoreless innings to secure the win.
Auburn’s win over Georgia Tech is the beginning of a busy finish to the week for the Tigers as a change in plans for Oklahoma State will add the Cowboys to the schedule this weekend at Plainsman Park instead. Auburn will still face Jacksonville State on Friday and Sunday as planned, but Oklahoma State will move its scheduled series against Western Illinois to Auburn instead because of weather.
“We are happy to welcome Oklahoma State and Western Illinois to Auburn,” Golloway said. “We are appreciative of Coach (Jim) Case and Jacksonville State for helping us work through the changes. It will be a great weekend for college baseball in Auburn.
“We are very thankful to Auburn University and Coach Golloway for offering us a chance to get our games in this weekend,” OSU Coach Josh Holliday added. “The weather across the country is causing numerous cancellations and if not for their sportsmanship and desire to see kids get to play we wouldn't be on the field. It's a classy move to welcome us in and we appreciate it. We are looking forward to outstanding facilities and the great competition this weekend.”
Auburn’s schedule for the rest of the week:
Auburn vs. Alabama A&M, 4 pm
Auburn vs. Jacksonville State, 3 pm
W. Illinois vs. Oklahoma State, 7 pm
Auburn vs. Oklahoma State, 3 pm
W. Illinois vs. Jacksonville State, 7 pm
W. Illinois vs. Oklahoma State, 10 am
Auburn vs. Jacksonville State, 2 pm