Auburn, Ala.--Niko Buentello, Anfernee Grier and Jordan Ebert all had three hits for the Auburn Tigers in an 11-2 win over Florida A&M on a cold Wednesday night at Plainsman Park, but the story of the day for Butch Thompson was the pitching of sophomore transfer Andrew Mitchell. Entering Wednesday’s game against a Florida A&M offense that scored 38 runs in three games last weekend, Mitchell had a challenge facing him, but he more than delivered. Pitching five innings and allowing just a pair of hits and no runs, the junior college transfer looked very good said Thompson in a very important outing for the Tigers. Fellow transfer Marc Frazier allowed two runs on three hits in three innings while Gordon Cardenas finished off the win for the Tigers, but it was the first two that set the tone.
“We kind of need that,” Thompson said. “We tried to make a few adjustments and both guys executed a completely different plan the first time we saw them pitch. I thought we had a little more success with it. I have a lot of success for Jamey Shoop and what he’s done down there. He’s been a great college coach for a long time with that program.
“They won two out of three against a good Marshall team I think and hit a ton. They were 1-1 with Jacksonville last night so I think they come in here with good intentions to play good against us. Some of their best swings were out. We really took the sting out of the swing tonight with those two pitchers. I was pleased by that.”
At the plate it was once again a story of early success for the Tigers thanks in large part to Buentello. Right out of the gate he put Auburn on the scoreboard as his triple off the wall in left field pushed across Melvin Gray in the first. With Mitchell controlling things on the mound Auburn came back for more in the third.
Walking to lead things off, Josh Palacios scored with one out when Buentello blasted a double to right-center to make it a 2-0 lead for the Tigers. A single by Jordan Ebert followed by a stolen base put two runners in scoring position for Daniel Robert. With the infield in Robert hit a bouncer to first base, but the throw home wasn’t in time to get Buentello.
It was part of a four-RBI night for the talented first baseman who is now hitting .438 with 14 RBI in four games. He said the start has been something that he’s very much enjoyed as he’s continued to see the ball well.
“It’s exciting,” Buentello said. “It’s weird as a hitter because it can change between at-bats. Right now I’m just trying to keep it simple while I’m seeing the ball really well right now.”
Andrew Mitchell was impressive in the win on Wednesday
With a three-run lead Blake Logan got a pitch to hit and extended that in a big way as he laced a double down the left field. Ebert and Robert both scored on the play to cap a four-run inning and give Mitchell a commanding five run advantage to work with after three innings.
In the top of the fourth Mitchell ran into his only real trouble as a walk and a wild pitch put a runner on second with nobody out. A pair of errors on Damon Haecker then loaded the bases for the bottom of the FAMU order, but a pair of pop ups on the infield kept the Rattlers off the scoreboard.
Auburn added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to back-to-back doubles by Anfernee Grier and Palacios. Staked to a six-run cushion Frazier cruised into the seventh inning, but that’s when he ran into a boatload of trouble.
Allowing an infield single with one out, a Frazier wild pitch moved a runner to second before two more infield singles pushed across the first run of the game for the Rattlers. The trouble continued as Frazier hit the next batter to load the bases before the second wild pitch of the inning made it a 6-2 lead. Getting out of the jam with a ground ball and keeping the lead at four proved to be huge for the Tigers as they broke the game open in the eighth.
Loading the bases with one out brought Buentello back to the plate looking for more and he delivered with a single up the middle to make it a six-run lead. Getting a pitch to handle with the wind blowing out, Ebert finished things off with a three-run home run to left field. Cardenas pitched a scoreless final inning to preserve the win.
Auburn returns to action on Friday at 3 p.m. with the first of three games against Southern at Plainsman Park.