Auburn’s makeshift lineup struggled to do anything at the plate throughout much of Tuesday night’s game against Georgia State, but it was able to take advantage of one last opportunity.
After being kept in the game with five and two-thirds scoreless innings by their bullpen, the Tigers put together a final-inning rally which finished with a walk-off single by junior college transfer Brendan Venter to defeat Georgia State 3-2.
“I thought at the end of the ballgame our approach really changed,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said.
The Tigers went hitless in innings two through seven and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position until the final two hitters of the game.
Connor Davis plated Will Holland with two outs in the ninth inning on an infield single off the first baseman’s glove, and Venter followed by reaching base for the fourth time in the game with his walk-off hit.
“All game we were putting barrels on balls, and the rule of averages says a few of them are going to fall eventually,” Venter said. “It was a pretty cool feeling being able to get it done.”
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Venter would have been without a chance for late-game heroics if it were not for freshman relief pitcher Cody Greenhill, who pitched the final three and one-third innings for the Tigers without surrendering a run or a hit.
“I wanted Cody Greenhill to pitch at game time,” Thompson said. “That tells you the difference between college baseball sometimes and professional baseball how you would deem somebody as your closer. We would rather refer to him as a competitive moment guy, bring him in in the sixth and our little bull finds a way to finish a ballgame for us.”
Auburn’s lineup looked a bit different than usual on Tuesday, as regular starters Dylan Ingram, Jay Estes and Luke Jarvis all were missing from it. Outfielders Bowen McGuffin and Judd Ward both got their first starts of the season, and Estes and Jarvis entered the game later.
“This is a personal thing that I’m trying to do is see everybody on our ballclub,” Thompson said. “Win, lose or draw I don’t think I would have had any regret with it. I want, once we get to SEC play, for our players to make the lineup out. The only way I know how to do that is to give these players an opportunity to play.”
Auburn moved to 4-0 on the young season, and its pitching staff has only allowed three runs over 36 innings.
The Tigers take the field again on Wednesday at Plainsman Park, as left-handed senior Andrew Mitchell will get the ball with first pitch set for 4 p.m. CT.