Will Holland (above) celebrates a home run.
Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn baseball Tigers completed a three-game sweep of Holy Cross on Sunday, striking for eight runs in the fifth inning to take command on the way to a 13-4 victory.
The Tigers improved to 7-1 on the season while the Crusaders dropped to 0-4.
Auburn overcame early struggles at the plate and on the mound to earn the victory. AU’s 7-1 record is its best start to a season since 2007. It was also the Tigers’ first home sweep of a three-game series since doing it in April of 2015 vs. Georgia.
“It’s just huge for our program,” Coach Butch Thompson said of the series sweep. “We’re trying to build one. Our guys have just been so consistent for us.”
Holy Cross scored its first run of the weekend against the Tigers in the third inning when Josh Hassell doubled in Thomas Russo.
Auburn got on the board one inning later with a Josh Anthony single that also was AU’s first hit of the day. He advanced to second by way of a wild pitch. He scored an unearned run on a ball hit to center field by Blake Logan that was an error.
The Tigers all but sealed the series sweep in the fifth inning with eight runs. Sam Gillikin reached first on a fielding error. A Jay Estes single advanced Gillikin to third base and Jonah Todd’s base hit scored Gillikin.
Jay Estes makes play for the Tigers. He contributed three hits and two RBI to the victory.
Daniel Robert got a single the following at bat and scored Estes. Josh Anthony was walked. After a Logan fly out, freshman Will Holland hit his first home run of the season.
“It felt good,” said Holland, who noted that his extended playing time is making him more comfortable. “It felt more natural,” he pointed out.
The Tigers’ strong inning did not stop there. Bowen McGuffin singled and stole second. Gillikin was walked. Then Estes had his second hit of the inning with a ball to deep left field that was ruled a double, but he advanced to third on the play. The hit also scored Gillikin and McGuffin.
In the sixth inning the Tigers loaded the bases and McGuffin was hit by a pitch and scored Anthony. Gillikin was walked the following at bat and scored Mike Rojas.
J.J. Shaffer was the first Tiger to score in the seventh and he did it off a Robert hit. Robert then scored off a Holland fly out.
Jonah Todd takes a swing in Sunday's contest.
Freshman Davis Daniel got the start on the mound for Auburn. He pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up five hits, no walks with six strikeouts and two runs.
Andrew Mitchell was awarded with the win despite only going for 2/3 of an inning. He threw 14 pitches, allowing a hit and striking out one.
Crusader pitcher Justin Finan was hitless through three innings. He ended the day with 4 2/3 innings pitched allowing six hits and striking out one.
“It was very important,” Holland said about his team’s sweep. “We have got to win as many games as possible. We’re on to the next one now.”
That next one is Tuesday at 3 p.m. CST as the Tigers play host the Samford Bulldogs at Plainsman Park.
“Again, we had a little bit of a slow start," Thompson said. "We had a much better start yesterday, but our guys hung in there. After the three frames, we stayed pretty consistent.
"We scored four innings in a row after that, along with the big eight-run inning," the Auburn coach noted. "That started with Sam Gillikin putting the bunt down the third base line. After the hit and run, it seemed like every ball found a hole. The hard contact came later on with Will’s (Holland) big shot. That inning started very unselfishly with Sam Gillikin laying down a bunt.”