Auburn, Ala.--Winners of eight straight games, including a sweep of Florida to open SEC play, the 20th-ranked Auburn Tigers (18-5, 3-0) take to the road this weekend when Coach Butch Thompson’s club heads to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs (9-13, 0-3). The winning streak is the longest for the Tigers since winning 11 straight in 2009.
Ranked for the first time in two years and with plenty of momentum, Thompson said his team’s success starts with the pitching of Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize and what they’ve been able to accomplish on Fridays and Saturdays so far this year.
With a record of 4-0 this season and an ERA of just 0.78, Keegan Thompson has been outstanding this season and Mize may have been even better. Also perfect at 3-0, Mize has an ERA of just 0.30 and has struck out 46 with only five walks.
Those numbers are important, but just as important is both have given the Tigers quality start after quality start this year. For a team that is thin on quality depth in the bullpen, Thompson and Mize have allowed Auburn to stretch things out on Sundays and pick up the slack for freshman Davis Daniel when he needs the extra help.
“I just think that’s the power of, when you see Keegan Thompson have a great outing and Casey Mize back-to-back, you take it for that day and it’s not just that day,” Butch Thompson said of what they mean to his team. “What they did last weekend strengthened us for Sunday. They are having an effect on the outcome of a series on Sunday and they’re not even throwing a pitch.
Casey Mize is scheduled to start on Saturday vs. the Bulldogs.
“If they keep setting us up like this we’ll be good, but there will be times when we’re more taxed, there will be times when we’re hot, there will be times when we’re doing things good and not getting rewarded for it.
“Their ability to have quality starts has no doubt helped us realign our pitching because our pitching had gotten to a very fractured state early in the year," the coach added. "I think we all sensed it. I think the players sensed it and the coaches sensed it. We kind of steadied ourselves and we’ve gotten really good quality starts.”
While the duo has been important for the Tigers in terms of pitching, offensively it has been about a different guy carrying the load each night out.
While center fielder Jonah Todd continues to lead the way for the Auburn offense with an average of .341 with six doubles and 17 RBI, it has been a next-man-up mentality that has allowed the Tigers to get the job done at the plate.
Moving from second base to the outfield, Jay Estes is hitting .333 with a team-high doubles while first baseman Daniel Robert’s .326 average and 19 RBI leads the team. Throw in key contributions from senior Blake Logan all the way down to freshman Will Holland and this group has done a good job so far of just playing the game.
“I think our lineup is good because of all the pieces, not just one piece,” Coach Thompson said. “We have a chance to have a different guy step up every day so we can’t lose the ‘us’ component. I think we can play defense, I think we’re getting something from our bench, I think we’re getting something from offense, pitching staff, relief.
“We’re getting a little bit from everywhere so it has to be about us for us to have any success, and then we have to do a great job of staying focused in the now. Everybody wants to have fun, but the only way we can have fun with our program right now, and this is what I’ll share with our guys going into another tough SEC weekend, is for us to fight, keep it about us and stay focused on the now.”
Scouting The Bulldogs:
Batting .269 as a team with 21 home runs, Georgia is led by Keegan McGovern's .348 average and six doubles. The power is supplied by Michael Curry with his five home runs and 25 RBI. Scoring just 113 runs in 22 games (5.13 runs per game), the Bulldogs are allowing 6.2 runs per game thanks to a pitching staff that enters the weekend with an ERA of 5.65.
Friday: Keegan Thompson vs. LHP Andrew Gist (1-1, 4.82 ERA)
Saturday: Casey Mize vs. RHP Tony Locey (2-3, 7.65 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Davis Daniel (1-0, 5.75 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Adkins (3-1, 2.97 ERA)
Game Times (CDT):
Friday, 6 p.m., SEC Network+
Saturday, 1 p.m., SEC Network+
Sunday, Noon, SEC Network+