After allowing the leadoff batters on base in the first two innings, the No. 8 MLB draft prospect Casey Mize did not allow another one until the sixth inning. He would go on to fire six scoreless innings, strike out seven and allow just three hits in 75 pitches, as Auburn defeated Longwood in its season opener 6-0.
"I felt great," Mize said. "The first couple innings was kind of a grind, honestly. I stayed away from my split-change for some reason. I don't know why I was refusing to throw it, but once we started doing that, everything really started clicking. I got in the groove and everything felt like it was supposed to feel."
Mize was the standard for the rest of the pitching staff, as Mize would retire 13 straight batters at one point before being pulled for Calvin Coker. Coker pitched two scoreless, allowing one hit and striking out five in the process.
“I don’t think I have seen Calvin Coker throw two better innings,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “It almost looked like midseason form.”
As the pitching staff handled their business, the offense provided them with some added cushion. The Auburn offense would score five runs while Mize was in the game and would add one more insurance run in the bottom half of the eighth.
Brent Wright provided the spark on offense with an RBI double in the second inning and a home run in the eighth to put the game away. Wright would get the game ball, but for his defense, said Thompson.
“I gave [Wright] the game ball, but I wanted to make sure I put a punctuation mark on it for his defense,” Thompson said. “But him hitting a home run was huge for us.”
Luke Jarvis stepped up as he provided a pair of RBI’s and a run as the Tigers new leadoff hitter, while Jay Estes struggled to find rhythm offensively.
“Luke had a little better night of it than Jay, but those two guys belong in the top of the lineup,” Thompson said. “It’s all going to be built around their ability to extend at-bats. It is all built around the two-strike approach and that is why I celebrate that fourth and fifth run.”
Will Holland also added an RBI batting in the bottom of the lineup, where most of the Tigers offense came from.
Auburn will face Longwood for the second game of the three-game series Saturday at 1 p.m. CT, with Davis Daniel starting for the Tigers.