“It’s huge,” Lipscomb said of the win. “We’ve been talking this whole week about this being the second half of the SEC and we’re just going to try to win every series on the back side. Of course winning the series it’s huge to win on Friday. Coach (Sunny Golloway) puts the trust and the confidence in me to go out there and pitch on Friday and it’s something I have embraced.”
At the plate Auburn was led by sophomore Damon Haecker’s three hits. Entering the game hitting just .171 in league play, Haecker was the hitting star of the night as he drove home two runs for the Tigers. Second baseman Melvin Gray added a pair of hits for Auburn as they got just enough offense to offset leaving 12 runners on base in the win. It was the fifth time the Tigers have left 12 men on base in a game this season, something that continues to be a problem.
“We left a ton of of guys,” Golloway said. “That’s what I told them in the fifth inning, I said ‘fellas how many times after the game have we talked about what we could have done to win the ballgame’. We’ve gotten ahead and left guys stranded, bases loaded, second and third. I know it’s still two-out clutch hitting.“What’s the difference between hitting with no outs and two outs, it’s about mental toughness,” he added. “It’s about tricking your mind to say ‘relax, it’s the same situation just get a hit’. I’ll be honest with you, I was a little frustrated with how many guys we’ve left on base. It’s a pattern we’ve held. You’ve got to tip your cap sometimes because (Christian) Trent made some pitches, but we’ve got to find ways to get guys in.”
Auburn took the lead on the Rebels (19-19, 7-9) in the second inning thanks to a pair of singles. Daniel Robert got things started with an infield single before advancing to second on a Kyler Deese groundout. Up with two outs following a Cody Nulph strikeout, Haecker’s first single of the game scored the Auburn first baseman to make it 1-0.
The Tigers added to their lead in the third as Melvin Gray singled and moved to second with one out on a Blake Logan walk to bring Jordan Ebert to the plate. His deep fly ball to center field was hit solidly, but went for out number two before a walk to Robert loaded the bases for Deese. Getting ahead in the count, Deese hit a ground ball to second that Will Golsam threw away at first to allow Gray to score from third and make it a two-run advantage.
With Lipscomb rolling along the Tigers added another run in the fifth as a one-out double from Deese put the Tigers in business. Following a bunt single by Nulph it was again Haecker that delivered as his single through the left side scored Deese to make it a 3-0 Auburn lead.
It wasn’t until the top of the eighth that Lipscomb ran into his first real trouble of the day. Getting the first two hitters of the inning, he gave up back-to-back singles to bring right fielder J.B. Woodman to the plate. Getting ahead in the count, Lipscomb froze Woodman on a called third strike to end the threat and keep the shutout intact.
Lipscomb would have to escape one more jam in the ninth however as Colby Bortles singled to start things before a walk to Sikes Orvis brought Errol Robinson to the plate. Lipscomb came back to get a ground ball to retire Orvis at second for out number one of the inning. That brought lefty Holt Perdzock to the plate with a chance to put the pressure on. Getting a ground ball to Robert at first almost turned into disaster as the ball bounced high off his glove, but he grabbed the ball on one bounce and flipped to Lipscomb for the second out. Determined to finish it off, Lipscomb struck out Austin Knight to end the game and secure the victory.
“I was pretty gassed after the eighth honestly, but I really wanted to finish it,” Lipscomb said. “I wanted to save (Justin) Camp and our bullpen. I knew that ninth inning was big for us and I wanted to finish that game and give us a good start to the series.”
With rain expected on Sunday, Auburn and Ole Miss will play a Saturday doubleheader beginning at noon with the second game immediately to follow. Sophomore Keegan Thompson (7-2) gets the ball in the first game with the Tigers going for the series win.