Auburn, Ala.--Auburn shortstop Luke Jarvis had a three-run double and the Tigers allowed just one run the final eight innings as they defeated George Washington 4-3 on Sunday to take the series from the Colonials.
“I’m thankful to go 3-1, but more important are the things that we learned about our ball club,” Thompson said. “The grind today, it was made mention to me that we were 1-11 in one-run games last year. To match that in the first weekend is kind of funny and kind of not funny.
“But it’s part of the kind of games we need to play. We had a one-run game the last two games of this series going into the ninth inning and I don’t know a more proper way for our team to grow than to be in those moments over and over again.
“Whenever you talk about a one-run game and moving the needle forward with your program, the ability to capture the moment and having success in the moment should lead to your growth. In some regards we’re only that far away from making big movement.”
For Jarvis it was the culmination of an up and down weekend at the plate for the junior college transfer. Slashing a double in his first at-bat of the series on Friday, he had just two hits in his next 15 at-bats before clearing the bases in the sixth inning with the eventual game-winner.
“Those first couple of pitches I was a little antsy and once we get to two strikes, Sis (Doug Sisson) is really big on having that nice approach of trying to see something fast out and react in,” Jarvis said. “I was really just trying to see the ball deep, got it, and finally just put one in play where they didn’t catch it.”
It was part of a day when the Tigers got 12 hits at the plate with Bo Decker going 3-3 with a run batted in. Jonah Todd and Jay Estes both had a pair of hits on the day as they continue to swing it well for the Auburn offense.
Making his career start as a true freshman, Davis Daniel got off to a rough start on Sunday as he allowed a pair of runs in the first inning but recovered to pitch into the fifth without allowing a third. Striking out three without a walk, Daniel had a solid outing other than struggles with two strikes. Of his seven hits allowed, five came with two strikes. That’s something Thompson said is a learning day for his freshman.
“Six of their batters in their lineup had over 100 games played,” Thompson said. “They are one of the toughest teams to strike out in college baseball and they caused us a lot of challenges. Hopefully their offense does a great job of helping Davis.”
Finishing strong, Daniel turned things over to Andrew Mitchell, Daniel Robert and Corey Herndon out of the bullpen and the trio got the job done. Allowing just three hits and an unearned run in the final four and two/thirds innings, the bullpen did the job with Mitchell getting the win and Herndon picking up the save.
“In the first game he got a couple of hitters and now he’s gotten to finish a game in the ninth inning,” Thompson said. “He got to make the last out with him being on the mound. That counts for something. We have to celebrate every victory, big or small. That’s a victory for one of our pitchers to be on the mound in a one-run game and get the third out.”
Down a pair of runs early, Auburn struck back in the second with its first run of the game but missed an opportunity for a big inning. Leading off, Todd singled through the left side and scored two pitches later when Decker crushed a double to center field. A Bowen McGuffin single put runners on the corners with one out for the Tigers, but Decker was thrown out at the plate on a Blake Logan ground ball to kill the Auburn rally.
With Daniel settling in on the mound the Tigers got into the fifth before running into trouble again. A pair of singles sandwiched around a wild pitch put runners on the corners with one out and brought Daniel’s day to a close.
Coming out of the bullpen, Mitchell struck out his first batter before getting a fly ball to end the inning and keep Auburn within striking distance.
In the sixth the Tigers finally broke through and it took a two-out hit to do it. Leading off the inning, designated hitter Dylan Ingram singled through the left side and Todd followed with his second hit of the game to put Auburn in business.
Following a sacrifice bunt by Decker and an intentional walk to McGuffin, pinch hitter Damon Haecker struck out to bring Jarvis to the plate with a chance to do some damage. Working the count full, Jarvis got a pitch to drive and laced it into right field for a double to clear the bases.
George Washington came back in the seventh to load the bases off Mitchell with a single, a catcher’s interference and a walk. With one out Robert came on in relief for the Tigers. Facing Robbie Metz, Robert got a fly ball to center. While it was enough to score a run, the senior came back to get the final out of the inning and keep Auburn in front 4-3.
Pitching a scoreless eighth and in complete control, Robert had arm issues warming up for the ninth and that meant Herndon was in to try to close it out for the Tigers. George Washington got a pair of runners on base in the ninth on a single and an error but the junior college transfer got a fly ball to secure the victory.
Auburn returns to action Tuesday at 3 p.m. when the Tigers take on Jacksonville State at Plainsman Park.