Auburn, Ala.--It took eight games, but on Sunday the Auburn Tigers finally got on the board in the Southeastern Conference with a 3-2 victory over the 13th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels. After being so close on several different occasions in the first three weeks, the Tigers used a strong pitching performance to carry them to the win.
For the week, Auburn was 2-2 including a victory over Mercer on Tuesday night in Macon, Ga. True freshman Taylor Thompson was the starting pitcher in both Auburn victories and had a solid outing in his first SEC start on Sunday. Coach Tommy Slater says the big right-hander solidified his place in the rotation with his performance in a huge spot for the Tigers.
"Taylor was really good," Slater says. "It was an outstanding start coming off the Tuesday start. He went out there today and it was a commanding performance by Taylor. He ran out of gas a little bit in the fifth but coming off of Tuesday that's not surprising."
For the week Thompson was outstanding. In two starts, the Montgomery native allowed just two earned runs on 11 hits in 11 innings. While he did walk four in each of his starts, he was able to keep them from hurting him by pitching well with runners on base.
At the plate Mike Bianucci had two big hits for the Tigers but otherwise struggled in the four games. Bianucci's three-hit game against Mercer included a home run and four runs batted in. Against Ole Miss the sophomore hit a home run in the Friday game but would get just one hit the rest of the weekend. He finished 2-12 in the series and struck out seven times. He was one of many Tigers that struck out too much as Auburn batters struck out 31 times in three games with 25 coming in the first two losses.
The bright spot at the plate for the Tigers during the week was true freshman Joseph Sanders. Starting all four games, the Millbrook native hit safely in every contest and finished a very respectable 6-15 with two RBI and a run scored. He also contributed several nice defensive plays at both third and first base.
True freshman Joseph Sanders has been a consistent performer for the Tigers this season.
Auburn will take on South Alabama at home Tuesday night before hitting the road once again in conference play at LSU. The Bengal Tigers are coming off an impressive road series win at Alabama over the weekend.
Player of the Week: For me the honor belongs to Sanders. While many of his teammates looked helpless for much of the week at the plate, Sanders had good at-bats and came up with a big RBI for the Tigers on Sunday. For the year he is hitting .339, second on the team, with seven doubles and 13 RBI.
Pitcher of the Week: This one is a lock. Taylor Thompson was absolutely outstanding in his two starts for the Tigers. Joining Sanders as a true freshman to earn an honor this week, Thompson has firmly cemented himself in the starting rotation. On the year he is 3-0 with a 3.48 ERA.
Auburn Stock Report: Holding steady. After two weeks of falling numbers, the Tigers came up with two victories and finally got off the mat in the SEC race. Now the real challenge begins for Auburn as they have back-to-back road trips to LSU and South Carolina in the coming weeks. With just two SEC teams currently having more than five wins, the Tigers aren't out of the picture for Hoover by a long shot but must play at least even the next six games to have a realistic chance for the SEC Tournament.
SEC Standings Through Week Three
Ole Miss 4, Auburn 2
LSU 5, Alabama 4
Arkansas 6, Tennessee 2
Florida 7, Georgia 5
Mississippi State 10, Kentucky 7
Vanderbilt 4, South Carolina 3 (12 innings)
Ole Miss 7, Auburn 4
Alabama 5, LSU 2
Arkansas 4, Tennessee 3
Florida 9, Georgia 1
Kentucky 10, Mississippi State 6
Vanderbilt 12, South Carolina 1
Auburn 3, Ole Miss 2
LSU 7, Alabama 3
Mississippi State 6, Kentucky 4
South Carolina 8, Vanderbilt 2
Florida 3, Georgia 2 (11 innings)
Arkansas 11, Tennessee 7
Next Week's Schedule:
Auburn at LSU
Alabama at Vanderbilt
Mississippi State at Arkansas
Georgia at Ole Miss
South Carolina at Florida
Tennessee at Kentucky