Photography: Dakota Sumpter

Keegan Thompson Strong Again for Tigers

Auburn opened its series vs. Lipscomb with a strong pitching performance from right-hander Keegan Thompson.

Keegan Thompson (above) picked up the win for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Keegan Thompson earned his third pitching victory of the young baseball season as he helped Auburn  post its nation-leading fifth shutout with an 8-0 victory over Lipscomb on Friday at Plainsman Park.

Thompson has yet to allow a run this season for the Tigers, who improved to 8-2.

It was a matchup of high-profile pitchers. With 25 pro baseball scouts in attendance Thompson pitched seven innings and allowed just one hit and one walk. He struck out five and threw 90 pitches.

The starter for Lipscomb, Brady Puckett (2-1), picked up his first loss as he gave up 12 hits and seven runs in 4 1/3 innings of work.

Asked about the matchup against Puckett, Thompson said, “You can’t really give up much of anything.  Once the guys went and got a couple of runs in the second inning, you kind of settle in more.”

Puckett kept the Tigers off the board for the first inning, but it did not take long for Auburn to find some hits and runs starting in an  eventful second inning.

Luke Jarvis got things going with a single. He then reached home thanks to a Bowen McGuffin double with a ball hit to right field. Bo Decker was then thrown out on a ground ball to shortstop and was injured on the play. “We think its nothing more than an ankle sprain,” Coach Butch Thompson said.

Photography: Dakota Sumpter

Bowen McGuffin bats for the Tigers.

Blake Logan was walked and brought Jonah Todd to the plate with two outs and appeared to be headed to first base. “Todd was hit by a pitch, but umpire Scott Cline made the ruling that he leaned into the thrown ball,” Coach Thompson said.

Assistant Coach Doug Sisson made it clear that he disagreed with the call. After a few words with Cline, Sisson was ejected. Asked about it the very quick ejection Thompson said, “I didn’t hear a whole lot. There wasn’t much going on. It was pretty quick.”

After the dispute Todd singled to left field and scored McGuffin to put Auburn up 2-0.

“I was pleased with how our offense jumped out today,” Auburn’s head coach said. “ Even when I looked up at the board and we had two runs and seven or eight hits, I still felt good.”

Auburn got more offense going in the fourth inning.  McGuffin singled and advanced to second base an at-bat later with a Sam Gillikin base hit. Logan placed a sacrifice bunt perfectly to advance the runners to second and third. Estes singled and scored McGuffin.  Gillikin later scored thanks to a Josh Anthony single right over Bison shortstop Hunter Hanks.

Jarvis singled on the first at-bat in the fifth inning and reached second due to an error by right fielder Allan Hooker. McGuffin was walked and scored with Jarvis on a Blake Logan single. Estes scored Logan with a single to put Auburn up 7-0 at the end of the fifth inning.

Auburn’s 15 hits against Lipscomb tied the season high for the Tiger hitters.

The Tigers had their last hit of the day in the eighth inning. It was a Gillikin single who scored Jarvis to give Auburn a 8-0 lead.

Thompson has started the season throwing 21 scoreless innings. He has only allowed six hits and four walks, and the junior right-hander has 11 strikeouts.

Asked about his scoreless streak, the pitcher said, “It’s something that kind of goes unsaid. You don’t want to bring it up or jinx it so I’ll leave it at that.”

The stretch is the longest scoreless streak to start a season for an Auburn pitcher since Bryan Woodall opened 2007 with 21 2/3 scoreless innings.  Thompson will have a chance to pass that mark next weekend against Presbyterian.

Ryan Watson took over for Thompson to start the eighth inning. He had two strikeouts and his coach said some good things to say about the reliever. “I thought Ryan Watson looked good,” Thompson said. “ I thought the ball came out of his hand really well for one inning.  If he keeps growing like that he is going to get some opportunities.”

Elliot Anderson came in to finish off the Bisons in the ninth inning, but was replaced by Calvin Coker after loading the bases. A Coker strikeout and a ground out was enough to seal the shutout.  

Commenting on Keegan Thompson, Coach Butch Thompson said, I didn’t think he was as sharp as he had been. He hadn’t walked a guy until he got to the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, the first two outings. He had a couple of walks in the first four innings today, and was kind of loopy and long.

"What I learned about Keegan, what I love so much today, is that when he’s not at his best he goes with what he’s got and he figures it out. He really got his curveball going and we talked about his slider last week. He just kept finding a way to take the sting out of their swing.”

Auburn has shutout all three Friday opponents this season will look for the series win Saturday at noon at Plainsman Park. Casey Mize will get the start against Jeffrey Passantino. 

Auburn vs. Lipscomb Box Score

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