Auburn, Ala.--In what was likely his final appearance at Plainsman Park, Auburn’s Keegan Thompson (6-4) struck out a season-high eight batters and didn’t allow a hit in six-plus innings for the Tigers before leaving in the seventh following a lightning delay. Reliever Cole Lipscomb finished things off for the Tigers to earn his sixth save of the year as they broke a seven-game losing streak on Thursday night with a 4-1 win over Ole Miss.
With the win Auburn improves to 33-21 overall and 15-13 in SEC play while Ole Miss falls to 31-23, 13-15 in league action.
At the plate Daniel Robert had a big two-run home run to give the Tigers some breathing room in the fourth and from there it was all pitching that carried Auburn to the win. Looking for a big outing from his junior, Coach Butch Thompson said he couldn’t have asked for more from Keegan Thompson on the night.
“I just thought he pitched like an ace tonight,” the second-year coach said. “Keegan Thompson was an ace and a ballclub that needs him. We were trying to get to 15 wins, only the second time since 2003 that’s happened in our program. He took the ball and I guess lightning was the only thing that could stop him tonight.”
For the Cullman native the night was bittersweet. Not allowing a hit in six-plus innings before having to come out of the game following a delay that lasted more than an hour, Keegan Thompson said the disappointment of having to come out of the game was lessened by the team getting a huge victory.
“It was very frustrating, but hopefully it’s a blessing in disguise with Tuesday being a short five days,” he said. “I’m going to try my hardest to go Tuesday (SEC Tournament). We’ll see how my arm bounces back the next couple of days and we’ll go from there.
“This was huge for us. Losing the last two series and being 0-for the last two weekends, it was very important for us to come out and get a win tonight and get our confidence back. It was big-time for us and kind of helps with our postseason chances.”
If it was his final time pitching in a game at Plainsman Park, Keegan Thompson said it’s hard to go out much better than he did on Thursday.
“It was very nice,” he said. “It’s just kind of hard to explain. It’s a special place here and maybe it being my last time on the mound here at home, it was just a nice feeling to go out like that.”
Thursday night was made more important by the news that sophomore Casey Mize has been scratched from his scheduled Friday night start because of continued shoulder tightness. Because of that news freshman Davis Daniel has been moved up a day and will face the Rebels on Friday instead of Saturday.
“Casey today just didn’t feel right,” Butch Thompson said. “He is on the 27-man (roster) and we’ll see if we can do something on Saturday. Most likely I would say a start is doubtful and we’ll see about the bullpen. If not we’ll glean into Tuesday. I think he’s felt worse, is probably the honest answer, but I think he feels like he would definitely be unable to go tomorrow and we’ll be day-by-day.”
Auburn got the scoring started in the second inning with the bottom of the order coming up big for the Tigers. With two outs and nobody on following a Blake Logan caught stealing, left fielder Sam Gillikin doubled to left field to put the Tigers in business. Back in the lineup at second base, Luke Jarvis ripped a ball off the glove of Colby Bortles at third base. The ball bounced to shortstop Grae Kessinger and he came up throwing to the plate, but the ball was wide of catcherh Cooper Johnson allowing Gillikin to score the game’s first run.
Daniel Robert celebrates his big two-run homer for the Tigers
After leaving the bases loaded in the third after having first and third with no outs, Auburn came back to add to its lead in the fourth. With one out Jarvis singled up the middle before a Will Holland double put runners on second and third for the top of the order.
Doing his job, Jonah Todd’s ground ball to the right side allowed Jarvis to score for the 2-0 Auburn lead and bring Robert to the plate. Already with a single on the night, the senior took a 3-2 pitch deep over the right field wall and into the Ole Miss bullpen for his fifth home run of the season.
Staked to a 4-0 lead, Keegan Thompson pitched into the seventh inning without allowing a hit before a lightning delay halted the game and ended his night.
Following a one hour and 14 minute delay the game resumed with Lipscomb taking the mound for the Tigers in the seventh. Pitching two scoreless innings but allowing a leadoff double to break up the no-hitter in the eighth, the senior ran into trouble in the ninth with Tate Blackman doubled and Will Golson singled to put runners on first and third with no outs.
Facing Bortles, Lipscomb got the power hitter on a deep fly ball to center field for the first out in the ninth. While it broke up the shutout, it was a big first out for the Tigers. Lipscomb came back with strikeouts of Nick Fortes and Ryan Olenek to secure the victory for Auburn.
Daniel (3-2, 5.28 ERA) will get the start for Auburn on Friday against Ole Miss freshman Ryan Rolison (6-2, 2.48). Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. on SEC Network+.