Robert, Auburn’s starting first baseman, noted it was an exciting day for him. Asked what he liked best, his play at the plate or on the mound, the sophomore said, “I think getting on the mound was my favorite. I haven’t done that in a while. I guess I was trying to put on my best Keegan Thompson impersonation.”
In the first game Robert hit a three-run homer and scored two runs. In the second game he drove home three runs and ended a threat by the Bulldogs with the tying runner at the plate with a nasty breaking pitch for the third out.
“I think I did alright,” he said, pointing out his breaking ball is a slider. “It was fun,” he said, noting it was his first appearance as a pitcher in a game since the state playoffs as a senior in high school.
Coach Sunny Golloway used two pitchers in game one and six in the nightcap. All were effective except for reliever Kevin Davis, who gave up three hits and walked two batters in two-thirds of an inning.
“It was really good to mix in some different guys here and there and do the things we did,” Golloway said of the team’s pitching. “I thought all of them performed pretty well for the most part. Coach (Tom) Holliday does a good job of keeping the (front-line) guys fresh for the weekend series. That was probably the most important thing.
“I thought both of our starters came out and pitched well,” Golloway said. “I thought (Dalton) Rentz going long in the first game was real important and then Robby (Clements) was cruising. Coach wanted to get Robby out because he can help us on the back end on Sunday if needed.”
Golloway said he likes the experiment with Robert doubling as a pitcher. “He is special on the mound,” the coach pointed out. “We watched him in the bullpen and he is 90-plus. He has got a really good breaking ball.”
Daniel Robert is hitting .272 this season for the Tigers.
In game two the Tigers took a quick 1-0 lead as Melvin Gray singled, stole second, advanced to third on a foul popup and scored following by a ground ball single to left field by Robert.
Robert again scored Gray in the third inning to make the score 2-0 with a groundout RBI.
Alabama A&M tied the game on a two-out double by Julio Nunez in the top of the fourth inning.
The Tigers struck for four runs in the bottom of the inning to take command. Ben Craft started the rally by reaching on an error on the first baseman. He advanced to second on a walk to Damon Haecker.
A perfectly executed bunt down the third base line by Cody Nulph loaded the bases, setting the stage for a suicide squeeze bunt single by Jackson Burgeen to make the score 3-2.
The Tigers added single runs in the fifth and seventh innings. Jordan Ebert doubled and scored on a single by Haecker in the fifth. Craft singled in the seventh and advanced to second base on an error by the center fielder. He scored when the third baseman mishandled a high chopper.
The Bulldogs scored three runs off of Davis in the eighth inning off of Davis before being shut down by Daniel. Auburn answered with two runs in the bottom half of the eighth. Sam Gillikin scored Deese on a double to right field and scored himself on a sacrifice fly by Robert.
The first game of the doubleheader began as a pitcher’s duel as neither team scored until the third when the Bulldogs pushed a run home. Dustin Dhanani doubled and scored on a single by Austin Hulsey.
Auburn tied the game in the fifth when Robert walked to open the inning and scored on an error by the shortstop.
The Tigers took the lead in the sixth inning on a solo home run to left center field by Anfernee Grier, his first of the season.
Auburn took command of the contest with six runs in the seventh inning. Haecker got the rally started with a leadoff single. Melvin Gray drove home the first run with a single and then pinch-hitter Jordan Ebert followed with a single that scored two more.
The next batter, Robert, smacked a pitch into the bullpen for a three-run homer.
Dalton Rentz, who allowed just four hits, was relieved by Jacob Milliman to start the eighth inning and the senior took care of business allowing just one hit as Rentz’s record improved to 2-1.
Auburn improved its record to 23-15 while Alabama A&M fell to 21-20.
The Tigers return to SEC play on Friday as they start a three-game home series vs. Ole Miss. Game times are 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with the Sunday contest a 3 p.m. start.