Auburn, Ala.--After scoring 15 runs and pounding the ball all over the park in Tuesday’s win over Alabama A&M it was time for the pitching to take center stage on Wednesday for the Auburn Tigers as starter Andrew Mitchell was dominant in a 5-0 victory over the Bulldogs to complete the mid-week sweep. Allowing just one hit in six innings and striking out eight, all career highs, Mitchell improved to 2-0 on the season with the victory while Auburn moves to 6-3.
"I thought the shining point, I'm such a pitching guy and I always keep talking about we need more and more, was Andrew Mitchell," Coach Butch Thompson said. "He's incrementally growing. He's growing at a little bit of a rate. He gave us five shutout innings last week and gets through six innings today and that really helped us. When you play Tuesday, Wednesday and you're about to go on the road and play three opponents that are a combined 21-2 it really helped to get a good start today and he did that for us."
A combination of Marc Frazier, Izaac Yarbrough and Gabe Klobosits finished off the shutout victory for the Tigers as they allowed just two total hits for the game. It was an important outing for Klobosits in particular said Thompson because it was his first time out of the bullpen and he looked good enough to warrant more time there moving forward.
"Gabe Klobosits, the last two weeks he's had with Sunday starts, for him to come out and be resilient and try a new role and build some confidence, I thought he accomplished that," Thompson said. "I thought he had great tilt and angle to his pitches. The split finger was really good in the ninth inning so he had a clean inning. Between Andrew and Gabe they really grew and then Frazier and Yarbrough came in and got an inning apiece."
Andrew Mitchell was very solid in his start on Wednesday.
At the plate the Tigers struggled to get anything going against a myriad of Alabama A&M pitchers that struggled to throw strikes for much of the game. Auburn totaled just hits for the game, but used eight walks, four hit-by-pitches and three Bulldog errors to get just enough offense to take the easy victory.
Auburn finally got its offense going in the bottom of the fourth inning against Alabama A&M starter Parker Hill. Throwing in the 70’s, Hill kept the Tigers off balance for much of the early part of the game until Anfernee Grier walked and stole second to move into scoring position. A walk to Josh Palacios followed to put runners on first and second before Jordan Ebert’s fly ball to right field moved Grier to third. That brought Niko Buentello to the plate in another RBI opportunity.
Already with 19 runs batted in for the season, Buentello got a pitch to handle and drilled it into right field for a single. That easily scored Grier to put the Tigers on the scoreboard and signaled a big inning to come in the fifth.
With two outs and nobody on the Tigers looked like they would go quietly, but freshman catcher Jonathan Foster was hit by a pitch to start the two-out rally. Up next, Grier looked like he had a double over the bag at third base but it was called a foul ball. It wound up being a good thing for the Tigers as his check swing blooper over the first baseman went for a run-scoring triple because of the shift employed in the outfield by Alabama A&M.
Following an error on a Palacios ground ball that scored Grier, Ebert continued his strong start with a double into the corner in left field. The hit scored Palacios and put Auburn ahead 4-0. The Tigers added a single run in the bottom of the sixth as Blake Logan got it started with a one-out triple and later scored on a bases loaded HBP to Grier. That would be all for the Tigers and all they would need in the win.
Auburn returns to action this weekend as the Tigers take part in the Cox Diamond Invitational in Pensacola. Auburn will face Troy at 6 p.m. on Friday, Michigan State at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Southern Miss at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Thompson said while they are likely to go into Sunday as a TBA with the starting pitching he envisions Justin Camp moving to Friday with freshman Casey Mize a possibility to get the start on Saturday. No matter what the order Thompson said it's going to be a challenging weekend for his team.
"It looks like it to me," Thompson said of the challenge. "That's one of the reasons why you would make this trip, that's the design of it. You're going to play a Troy, Michigan State and Southern Mississippi team that is a combined 21-2. I think everyday we're going to get the team's best and hopefully we give them our best."