Auburn, Ala.--Following a standout performance by Keegan Thompson on Thursday, the Auburn Tigers got another from freshman Davis Daniel in game two against Ole Miss as the Montgomery native allowed just one run on four hits in six and one/thirds innings in a 9-1 victory to earn the series win over the Rebels.
With the victory Auburn improves to 34-21 overall and 16-13 in SEC play while Ole Miss falls to 31-24, 13-16 in league play. The series win is the seventh in league play for the Tigers while the 16 wins is just the second time since 2003 for Auburn to have a winning record in league play.
“16 feels bigger and then you’re just trying to get more,” Coach Butch Thompson said. “You’re just trying to play your best baseball this time of the year.”
Putting up big games in wins on the road at Georgia and Tennessee earlier in the year, Daniel came out of the bullpen last weekend at LSU for Auburn. Back in a starting role and bumped up a day because of Casey Mize not being available, the freshman was sensational said Butch Thompson.
“You’re proud of so many guys when they have moments, but I’m no more proud of anybody this year than to see him do what he did tonight,” the second-year coach said. “We keep talking about a Tennessee and a Georgia outing for him, but this was another time he really stepped up. He moved up a day and we really put a very aggressive mindset with him. We threw a ton of fastballs, especially with two strikes. He just kept driving the baseball and kept competing.”
Watching Keegan Thompson have success with breaking balls against the Rebels on Thursday night, Daniel agreed with his coach that the key for him in the victory was his fastball command.
“I think just coming out and really trusting my fastball was the main thing,” Daniel said. “Coming through the year you learn a lot and you learn to go to your best stuff when you need it. Today my best stuff was my fastball and it has been my best stuff all year. I just really trusted it and that was big.”
Struggling with just 10 runs scored in the last five games, Auburn busted out with 13 hits and nine runs in the first five innings to cruise to the win. Freshman Conor Davis led the way with three hits and three runs batted in for the Tigers while Jonah Todd, Jay Estes and Blake Logan all added two hits apiece as the Tigers all but clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament with the victory.
Getting that kind of support was a huge piece of the puzzle in his outing, said Daniel.
“The first couple of innings I had a lot of pitches,” Daniel said. “It took me a little bit to settle in, but I was able to get out of it without any trouble. Then coming in and getting some runs and giving me support was really huge in me settling in and being able to throw less pitches and go a little bit further.”
The Tigers wasted no time in jumping on Ole Miss freshman Ryan Rolison on Friday night with a pair of runs in the first inning to set the tone. Leading things off, Todd singled and moved to second on a passed ball with one out before a Daniel Robert walk. Following a Davis single, Josh Anthony’s single through the left side scored both runs to make it 2-0 Tigers.
In the third Auburn added to its lead thanks to a pair of doubles. With Anthony on first after being hit by a pitch, Estes pulled a ball down the third base line for a double to score Anthony and make it a three-run lead. With two outs Blake Logan hit a long fly ball to deep center that bounced off Ryan Olenek’s glove for a double. Estes scored on the play to make it a four-run lead.
Estes celebrates his run-scoring double
Adding another run in the fourth on a Davis single that scored Dylan Ingram following a leadoff double, the Tigers broke it open in the fifth to put Daniel in cruise control.
Keeping it going, Estes tripled to the left-center field gap to put the Auburn offense in business and when Bo Decker doubled to left-center as well it was a six-run advantage. The Tigers would load the bases on a Will Holland hit-by-pitch and a Todd bunt before Robert walked to force in another run and bring Davis to the plate.
Struggling with just eight hits in his last 46 at-bats entering the night, Davis got his third hit of the night when he pounded a double off the wall in left field to score the final two runs of the night for Auburn.
Staked to a nine-run lead, Daniel pitched a scoreless sixth on just six pitches before exiting the game in the seventh with a pair of runners on base and one out. Ole Miss managed to get on the board against Klobosits with a Tate Blackman single to charge a run to Daniel, but that would be it for the Rebels.
Klobosits pitched two scoreless innings to finish things off for Auburn as they clinched the series victory on Friday night.
The Tigers will look for the sweep on Saturday at 1 p.m. with junior left-hander Andrew Mitchell getting the call on the mound.
Tiger Ticket Notes:
*Outfielder Jonah Todd had two more hits on the night to raise his average to .385 on the season, but left the game in the seventh inning with J.J. Shaffer taking his place. Coach Butch Thompson said the junior center fielder injured his hand sometime during the game but they’re unsure of the severity of the injury. He’ll be evaluated Saturday morning to gauge his status for the regular season finale at Plainsman Park.
*After having just 12 extra-base hits in the seven-game losing streak, Auburn has 10 in the two wins over Ole Miss this weekend.
*Currently Auburn is tied for sixth in the SEC standings but would lose the tiebreaker with Texas A&M. Auburn could finish as high as fifth if the Tigers win on Saturday and both Miss. State and Texas A&M lose. Auburn can finish no lower than 8th in the league.