Atlanta, Ga.--Auburn used a nine-run inning to break open a close game at #22 Georgia Tech on the way to a dominating 14-3 victory over the Yellow Jackets for Coach Butch Thompson’s club. Improving to 9-8 on the year and winning for the third time in four games, Auburn pounded out 17 hits and got quality pitching from Andrew Mitchell, Marc Frazier and Daniel Sprinkle on the way to the most complete victory of the season for the Tigers.
“We can do this and we’re capable of this,” Thompson said of his team’s performance. “We had the three-run third and then we give two back and you’re like ‘oh no, it’s going to be a grind’, but our guys came back in the fourth and when they scored nine that was huge. I think we scored seven runs with zero outs and that’s what we’ve been doing lately.
“Andrew battled,” he added. “I think that’s the most strikeouts we’ve probably had this year and he had nine. Marc Frazier has really improved the last couple of outings. We made a little adjustment and he’s really closed up a little bit more. It’s really nice to see against such a quality ball club to be able to get outs and shove the ball in the strike zone with two pitches.”
While the pitching was solid, this game was all about the Auburn offense as the Tigers started fast and cruised to an easy win. Scoring 12 runs on 15 hits in the first five innings, Auburn put the clamps on the Yellow Jackets and never let them back in the game after the two teams traded blows early.
Josh Palacios, Niko Buentello, and Cody Nulph all had three hits for the Tigers with Buentello reaching base safely in all six plate appearances on the night. Anfernee Grier and Jordan Ebert added two hits each for an Auburn offense that is coming together at the right time said Buentello.
“We’re in a good spot to be right now going into SEC play,” Buentello said. “We’re going to need it. Confidence is the key and I’m pretty sure one through nine we’re feeling pretty good about it right now.”
On the mound Auburn got another quality start from Mitchell as he allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings while striking out a career-high nine batters. Frazier came on in relief and allowed just three hits and no runs in three innings while adding five strikeouts. Sprinkle pitched a scoreless ninth to finish off the win.
Auburn’s offense didn’t take any time showing its muscle on Tuesday night as the Tigers picked up where they left off over the weekend. After missing scoring opportunities in the first and second, Auburn struck in the third to take the early lead thanks to the long ball.
Leading things off Grier just missed a home run with a double off the ball to bring Palacios to the plate. With the wind blowing out to left the junior college transfer didn’t need any help as his line drive to right cleared the wall for his second home run of the season.
One out later Buentello made it a three-run inning for the Tigers with a solo shot to left field. His fourth homer of the year gave Mitchell a three-run cushion to work with, but Georgia Tech would answer back in the bottom of the inning. Scoring a pair of runs on three hits, the Yellow Jackets tried to put the pressure on Auburn but that didn’t work on this day as the Tigers exploded for the huge fourth inning to take complete control of the game.
Getting it started as Daniel Robert. Back in the lineup, Robert blasted a double off the wall in left field to get things going before moving to third on a Nulph blooper into right field. One of the top defensive teams in the country, Georgia Tech booted a potential double play ball off the bat of Kyler Deese and when the throw went into the stands Auburn had runners on second and third with nobody out and one run in.
That was all for Georgia Tech starter Cole Pitts as Jake Lee came on in relief and didn’t fare any better. Facing the top of the order, Lee gave up singles to Grier, Palacios and Ebert before walking Buentello. A Blake Logan single and a double from Jackson Burgreen chased Lee before he could record an out as the Tigers has suddenly built their lead to 10-2 with still nobody out. RBI groundouts by Robert and Nulph finished off the nine-run inning for Auburn and the damage was done.
Georgia Tech scored a single run in the fifth inning but Frazier did his job in keeping the lead for the Tigers. That allowed the offense to tack on two more insurance runs in the eighth inning as Grier walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Also reaching on a walk, Palacios scored on a Buentello single to finish off the scoring for Auburn on the night.
Auburn returns to action this weekend as the Tigers take on No. 3 Texas A&M at Plainsman Park to open SEC play. Game times for the series are 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.