The sweep is the first for Auburn since taking three from Tennessee in 2012 and puts the Tigers in great position with three series remaining. At 10-11 in the league Auburn is firmly in control of its destiny as far as the SEC Tournament is concerned and the Tigers likely need just four more league wins to wrap up a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
On the mound the Tigers got a strong performance from junior Dalton Rentz in the winning effort. On a pitch count the junior college transfer allowed just four hits and no runs in four and two/thirds innings to pick up his third win of the season. Reliever Izaac Yarbrough bridged the gap for Auburn, allowed a run on three hits in two and two/thirds innings before Jacob Milliman and Trey Wingenter finished off the sweep.
“What a great job he did after starting on Tuesday,” Golloway said. “We weren’t sure if we were going to get one inning out of him or two or three or what. Then there was an hour delay in there for both of those starters and I thought they both pitched really well. I thought big Dalton was just terrific. He gave us a lot more than we were expecting, I’ll put it that way.
At the plate Daniel Robert had two of Auburn’s six hits for the night, drove home a run and also scored a run as the Tigers picked up the huge sweep of the Bulldogs.
“It was fun,” Robert said. “It was the first sweep I’ve had since I’ve been here. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more the next few weeks. That was really fun. I’m glad we came out and played well in this series because honestly we needed a sweep. We needed to pick a game up and I’m glad we did.”
A big part of the win was Rentz. Pitching on just three days rest after throwing 69 pitches in four and one/third innings against Florida A&M on Tuesday night, the junior college transfer said he was happy to be on the mound and deliver in a clutch situation.
“That felt great,” Rentz said. “It was a really good game by the whole staff and the whole team played really well. It (short rest) didn’t change much for me. I had a short warm-up. I didn’t want to warm up too much coming off three days rest, but I just treated it like a regular game.
“It’s a really good feeling knowing your team is there to back you up,” he added. “You’ve got confidence in the bullpen so once you get up in the game you now you’re going to win because your bullpen is strong.”
Dalton Rentz picked up the win on Saturday night
Auburn took the early lead in the first inning, but not before some fantastic defense kept the Bulldogs off the board in the top half. With two outs and nobody on Keegan McGovern singled off Rentz before a walk to Daniel Nichols brought Jared Walsh to the plate. Getting a pitch to hit, Walsh singled to right field, but Damon Haecker came up throwing for the Tigers to easily gun down McGovern at the plate.
Following a 41-minute lightning delay the Tigers wasted no time taking the lead as Deese singled to start things before moving to second on a Melvin Gray bunt. Advancing to third on a wild pitch, Deese scored on a Daniel Robert groundout to make it 1-0 Auburn after one inning.
With Rentz and Georgia starter Ryan Lawlor both settling in that’s how things stayed until the fifth when Auburn pulled Rentz because of a pitch count and went to Yarbrough out of the pen. He quickly hit the first batter on his first pitch before giving up a single to put runners on first and third for Nichols. Slicing a pitch down the left field line, Nichols looked as if he had put the Bulldogs on the board, but a diving stop by Deese and a strike to first kept Auburn’s shutout intact.
“It was top 10,” Rentz said. “It was big-time, a big play. It was perfect timing and he made the throw. It shocked me he even caught it, but to get up and throw it to first, it was a spectacular play.”
Kyler Deese fires to first for the out
Georgia threatened again in the sixth inning as Trevor Kieboom stepped to the plate with two outs looking to make something happen. Driving a pitch to right field he was able to roll into third with a triple after Haecker came forward and then slipped retreating for the ball. With a chance to tie the game the Bulldogs again didn’t come through as a fly ball to Haecker kept it a 1-0 game.
That score didn’t last long however as an infield single by Gray opened the floodgates for the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth as he quickly stole second to put the pressure on the Bulldogs. After Grier was hit by a pitch, Robert stepped to the plate in a bunt situation and laid one down the third base line perfectly for a hit to load the bases with no outs.
With Haecker up and a chance to break the game open Lawlor bounced a pitch to the wall that allowed Gray to score for the 2-0 lead. Following a strikeout, Blake Logan’s fly ball to center field easily scored Grier for the three-run Auburn lead. With Robert on second it was pinch hitter Bo Decker’s turn to get into the action as his double off the left field wall plated Robert for the commanding 4-0 lead for the Tigers.
Missing an opportunity to increase the lead in the bottom of the seventh, Auburn would once again have to escape trouble in the top of the eighth inning. Allowing a single to start the inning before hitting Daniel Nichols, Yarbrough came back to strike out Jared Walsh before Jacob Milliman came out of the pen for the Tigers to face pinch-hitter Zack Bowers.
A walk to Bowers loaded the bases for the Bulldogs before Milliman recovered to strike out Kieboom for out number two. The second walk from Milliman forced home the first run of the game for the Bulldogs and brought the go-ahead run to the plate for the Bulldogs, but a fly ball to right field by Nick King left them loaded with Auburn up by three. Wingenter slammed the door shut in the ninth inning to secure the sweep and put the Tigers in very good position in the race for the SEC Tournament.
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