A very good program in recent seasons under Mike Bianco, Ole Miss had not been swept at home in SEC play since Mississippi State won three from the Rebels in 2003, a span of 37 series. Auburn accomplished the feat by scoring 34 runs and allowing just eight runs. Coach John Pawlowski said that while the offense will get much of the attention, the story of the weekend and of Saturday was Auburn's pitching.
"There is a lot of confidence with this club right now," Pawlowski said. "We continue to talk about the performance on the mound. You throw Grant Dayton out there, who did a great job, and Michael Hurst. There were no walks. We made them put it in play and they did an outstanding job. Offensively we put up a seven-run inning and I told them that sometimes we overlook some of the little things we do offensively. You look back and we had two squeezes in that inning (second). We continue to find ways to do things and obviously going on the road in this environment is another big win for the Tigers."
Dayton was once again very good for the Tigers as he continues his mastery in SEC play. Allowing just three hits in five innings on 65 pitches, he finishes the conference schedule with a 7-1 record and 8-2 overall for the season. Not one to brag about himself, Dayton said that much of the credit for his record should go to his offense for the job its done in 2010.
"I knew it was going to be a challenge coming out here," Dayton said. "They've got good hitters for sure. It always helps when we jump on their pitching early and we were able to. That made for a comfortable day on the mound. That's all it really comes down to is being comfortable on the mound. Our hitters definitely made me comfortable.
"It's a huge accomplishment," he added on getting seven wins. "I'm definitely proud of that. There's not much to say. It's a team sport and I know it goes on my record, but it's definitely a team sport and our hitters have been keeping us in it from the very beginning. My hat is off to the hitters and our team. We've been playing great."
Those hitters were led by Mummey with his three hits and four RBI while Justin Fradejas also added three hits and three runs scored. Hunter Morris and Tony Caldwell added two hits each with Morris absolutely ripped off in the ninth inning of another hit that was ruled an error. Mummey said right now the team is playing with a lot of confidence in every area, especially at the plate.
"It was really big (to sweep)," Mummey said. "We came out yesterday and won the West and we wanted to put ourselves in the best possible position to host a regional. I think we did that today with the sweep over Ole Miss. It was really fun to jump on them early the past two games and coming back from behind on Friday was big."
Justin Fradejas had five hits in the final two games of the series against Ole Miss.
With the sweep and earning the second-seed in the SEC Tournament next week in Hoover, Auburn will face Alabama in the first game on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. On the other side of the bracket will be three-seed South Carolina against 7th-seed Ole Miss. Florida is the number one overall seed and will face LSU while Arkansas and Vanderbilt will play in the 4-5 game after playing over the weekend in Nashville.
The wins also give Auburn 39 overall wins and put the Tigers in even better position to host an NCAA Regional when the bids are announced on Memorial Day. While that would be nice, Mummey said getting to play Alabama is a huge opportunity to open the tournament and that's the focus for the team at the moment.
"I'm excited about it," Mummey said. "I missed that series so I have a little bit of revenge for them. We're ready to play them. It's going to be an early game and it's going to be fun. We've got a little Iron Bowl at Regions Park."
Auburn didn't waste any time getting on the board in the getaway game on Saturday. Leading off against hard-throwing David Goforth, Fradejas ripped a single to left field to bring Mummey to the plate. Behind in the count, Mummey went with a pitch and hit it over the wall in left-center for the two-run shot. It was his 15th of the season and gave the Tigers some early momentum.
The blast appeared to get to Goforth as he walked Fletcher, but recovered to pick him off first for out number one. Another walk, this one to Morris, put him back in trouble. Once again he came back to strike out Kevin Patterson before another walk to Casey McElroy brought Caldwell to the plate with a chance to increase the lead. Instead Goforth got the strikeout to end the threat with Auburn up 2-0. Auburn did force the Ole Miss starter to throw 37 pitches on a very hot day in Oxford.
Ole Miss got a run back in the bottom of the second on one swing of the bat from designated hitter Matt Snyder. Missing 21 games this season because of shoulder problems, Snyder got a fastball and drove it to left and out of the park for his 10th homer of the year.
Now leading just 2-1, Auburn came back and poured it on in the third inning with seven runs to take the crowd out of the game early. Leading off, Fletcher drilled a pitch into left field and hustled into second base for a double. Consecutive singles by Morris and Patterson followed to give the Tigers a two-run lead. Following a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third, Caldwell put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Morris for a 4-1 lead. On the play Caldwell reached first safely as the ball just scooted under the glove of the pitcher.
Justin Hargett squeezes home a run for the Tigers.
A wild throw to first and the subsequent error allowed Patterson to score and Caldwell to move to second. Another single, this one by Dan Gamache, put runners on the corners as Ole Miss went to the bullpen for Montgomery native Rory McKean. Knowing he would be looking to get ahead, Auburn decided to squeeze again and Hargett executed it perfectly to score Caldwell. After Fradejas reached on an error, Mummey drove in two with a double to right field. Later a Morris single pushed across the seventh run of the inning as Mummey scored to put Auburn up 9-1.
Dayton allowed just the one run on three hits before giving way to Michael Hurst out of the bullpen in the bottom of the sixth and the senior had a day to remember to finish off the series for the Tigers. In four innings he allowed just one hit and struck out three as the Tigers allowed just four hits for the game in the victory.
"It was really exciting," Hurst said. "For us to come in and get a sweep was really big for the team. It's a big confidence builder going into the SEC Tournament."
Leading 9-1 in the ninth inning and runners on second and third with two outs, Morris was at the plate trying to keep his average above .400 for the regular season. Working a 10-pitch at-bat with several foul balls, including two that had home run distance to right field, Morris smoked a one hop grounder off of Snyder's glove at first base. Two runs scored on the play that was somehow ruled an error. That proved to be the final scoring of the day as Auburn won 11-1.
For the weekend the Tigers scored 36 runs in three games, the third-straight series over 30 runs for Auburn and the fifth-straight scoring at least 25 runs in SEC play. Auburn will try to keep hot this week as the Tigers look to defeat rival Alabama in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover at 9:30 a.m.
Game 1--9:30 a.m No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 2 Auburn (SPSO)
Game 2--TBD No. 6 Ole Miss vs. No. 3 South Carolina (SPSO)
Game 3--4:30 p.m. No. 8 LSU vs. No. 1 Florida (CSS)
Game 4--TBD No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 Arkansas (CSS)
Game 5--9:30 a.m. Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (CSS)
Game 6--TBD Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 (CSS)
Game 7--4:30 p.m. Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (CSS)
Game 8--TBD Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (CSS)
Game 9--3 p.m. Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 7 (SPSO)
Game 10--TBDWinner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8 (SPSO)
Game 11--9:30 a.m. Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9 (SPSO)
Game 12--TBD Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 10 (SPSO)
Game 13*--5 p.m. Winner Game 11 vs. Loser Game 11 (CSS)
Game 14*--TBD Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 12 (CSS)
Game 15*--1 p.m. Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14 (ESPN2)
*If both bracket winners are undefeated, there will be no games 13 or 14 on Saturday and the championship game Sunday would be Game 13.
*If games 13 or 14 are necessary, they will be 7-inning games.
(SPSO)--Includes SportSouth, Sun Sports, FOX Sports Southwest, FOX Sports Houston and FOX Sports South in Kentucky
(CSS)--Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast
All games available in High Definition
All games will be streamed live on ESPN3.com (Formerly ESPN360)
All games each day will begin 30 minutes following the previous game, but no earlier than the designated start time.