Auburn pounds No. 5 Florida in SEC opener
In Auburn and Florida’s last meeting on the diamond, the Gators ended Auburn’s SEC Tournament run in Hoover in 2015, defeating Auburn 11-2. It took nearly two years, but Auburn finally got its payback.
Auburn exploded for eight runs in the 5th inning and cruised to the finish line, defeating No. 5 Florida 14-3.
The 14 runs are the most Auburn has scored in an SEC game since April 18, 2015 against Ole Miss, the most runs scored against Florida since 1997 and the most scored against Florida at Plainsman Park since 1972.
“Our lineup, you talk about where to start,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “I think for me in an SEC game, if I can remember back, I think this is as much as I have seen our club in 20 ballgames compete for each and every individual pitch, offensively and defensively.”
The Gators jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a two-out RBI single by Christian Hicks, but Auburn knotted things in the bottom half of the inning with a two-out RBI double by Jay Estes.
In the fourth, freshman utility man Will Holland blasted his second homerun of the season to give Auburn a 3-1 lead. The Tigers would deliver the knockout blow one inning later.
Auburn loaded the bases with one out and knocked out Florida starter Alex Faedo, who entered the contest with a 3-0 record and 1.37 ERA. Senior Blake Logan got the scoring outburst started with a RBI single scoring Bowen McGuffin who doubled to lead off the inning. Estes and Holland then delivered runs with a bases-loaded hit by pitch and walk, respectively to extend the Auburn lead to 6-1.
Jonah Todd followed with a two-run double to push the lead to 8-1. Todd scored on a passed ball, which was sandwiched by RBI singles by McGuffin and Josh Anthony.
Luke Jarvis and Holland each added RBI singles in the sixth to give Auburn a commanding 14-2 lead.
Auburn ace Keegan Thompson continued his dominant start to the season, allowing just two runs (one earned) in 6.1 innings of work. The junior scattered three hits while striking out a season-high eight.
“Keegan just battles and it was good,” Butch Thompson said. “I just thought that Keegan was himself, if not in his moments a little bit better. He pitched around a mistake early and later on India, man, he had a great approach…Keegan is just steady and loves to compete. He was great today.”
Thompson moved to 4-0 on the season while his ERA rose to a meager 0.88.
“They have a good lineup, they have a bunch of guys that can hit the ball well,” Keegan Thompson said. “They don’t have a whole lot to show for it now, but I think as the year goes on they are going to be able to put some runs and hits together. Trying to keep them on the corners and not in the middle of the plate and let them get themselves out. Going against Faedo, he’s a great pitcher and a great arm. You just try to limit your mistakes.”
McGuffin finished the night 3-for-5 with three runs scored and a RBI. Estes and Todd each finished with two doubles and two RBI. Estes scored three runs for the Tigers. Holland went 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBI. He is the first Auburn player to record four RBI in a game this season.
Ryan Watson took over for Thompson in the seventh, got out of a jam and finished the game for the Tigers. He allowed just two hits and one run while striking out a pair over 2.2 innings.
Florida (13-6, 0-1) used four pitchers with starter Alex Faedo (3-1) taking his first loss of the season. He completed 4.1 innings and allowed four hits, six runs and walked a career-high six batters.
Jonathan India hit a solo home run and Christian Hicks had a pair of RBI to lead the Gators.
Auburn (14-5, 1-0) and Florida will continue their series Saturday at 2 p.m. CST at Plainsman Park. Casey Mize (2-0) and his 0.40 ERA will be on the mound for Auburn.