Auburn, Ala.--Auburn pitchers Daniel Sprinkle, Gabe Klobosits and Casey Mize combined to strike out 15 Georgia State hitters and freshman Jonathan Foster added three hits for the Tigers (14-15) as Coach Butch Thompson’s team got back on the winning track with a 7-4 victory at Plainsman Park.
“I just thought when we got to two strikes we elevated the fastball and they swung through it a lot,” Thompson said. “They really went for it more than other teams but I think it was located better. That was big in the ballgame and it takes a little pressure off your defense when 15 of 27 outs are recorded that way.
“I thought Daniel Sprinkle did a lot for us with this compressed deal,” he added of this week’s Thursday, Friday, Saturday series at Missouri. “For him to give us six innings is quality.”
Picking up his first career win, Sprinkle allowed just two runs on three hits in those six innings and struck out eight. Klobosits and Mize added the other seven strikeouts in the final three innings for the Tigers, but it was Sprinkle’s night and it was one he enjoyed.
“I think I did good,” Sprinkle said. “I felt good. As long as we keep the errors down and keep playing defense the way we did, I think it makes it easier to pitch. We also had seven runs. All that ties in together and makes it easier to pitch.”
At the plate Foster was the star of the night with his three hits and two RBI. Josh Palacios added a pair of hits as well with Jordan Ebert driving home two runs in the game.
After a pair of scoreless innings to open the game Sprinkle ran into his first trouble in the top of the third when Joey Roach stepped to the plate with a runner on base and two outs and launched one over the way for a two-run bomb. That gave the Panthers the early lead, but it wouldn’t take long for Auburn to answer back.
Throwing three scoreless innings, Garrett Ford finally showed signs of slowing down in the fourth when Palacios singled and stole second with two outs. That set the table for the red hot Blake Logan and he again delivered with a single to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.
Auburn continued that in the fifth when Melvin Gray singled to start things before Damon Haecker was hit by a pitch. After Kyler Deese loaded the bases with an infield single, Foster laced a double down the left field line to score two runs and put Auburn in front 3-2. The Tigers added the third run of the inning on an Anfernee Grier groundout to extend the lead for Sprinkle heading to the sixth.
Pitching a final scoreless inning, Sprinkle turned things over to Klobosits to start the seventh and immediately he ran into trouble. After striking out the first two batters he faced, the big junior gave up a triple to Jaylen Woullard before Justin Jones singled him home to cut Auburn’s lead down to just one.
Loading the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh following a Palacios single, Auburn sent senior Jordan Ebert to the place with an opportunity to break the game open and he came through with a bloop single to right field. Foster and Grier scored on the play to make it a 6-3 lead for the Tigers.
Both teams would add a run in the eighth, but Mize would settle in to pitch a scoreless ninth to earn the save for the Tigers.
Auburn returns to action on Thursday night at Missouri in the first of three games against the Tigers.