In front of a packed Plainsman Park, Auburn started off strong and held on late to defeat South Carolina 5-4. Auburn improved to 22-6 overall and 6-1 in SEC play. South Carolina dropped to 18-7 and 5-2 in the SEC.
"I think our guys did a good job of just playing the game and staying connected to what we're doing," Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. "Josh Anthony got a big double off of [Wil] Crowe there to have the big inning. We were one play away from Casey [Mize] just really doing it, but that's what a quality team is going to do. Casey really reset and came back for the seventh, eighth and ninth and got right back out on a roll. He's just a warrior. I didn't give a game ball tonight, I gave a game bucket and I poured it over Casey's head. Probably 30 baseballs. That was just a great effort tonight."
With Auburn ace Keegan Thompson not pitching, Casey Mize started for the first time in his career on a Friday night. He did not disappoint as he pitched his first career complete game. He would ultimately make the play that would seal the victory for Auburn.
To start the game, Mize struck out five of the first six batters he faced. He ended the night allowing four earned runs and ten hits but did tie a career high with twelve strike outs.
"The electric crowd out there brought a great atmosphere and definitely helped me get through the ninth," Mize said. "Hearing that crowd roar when I went out there for the ninth was one of the best feelings I've ever had, and then after the last out, too. I got a little shaky in the middle innings and just kept trying to throw pitches and trusting my defense, who made unbelievable plays. I know I might be all over the headlines, but those guys are the real tale of the tape. Those guys made unbelievable plays."
Auburn took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. With the bases loaded Will Crowe threw a wild pitch for South Carolina. Jonah Todd would score off the pitch, and then a throwing error by the Gamecock catcher scored Jay Estes.
In the bottom of the third, Josh Anthony hit a shot to center field that would score two runs and bring Auburn’s lead to 4-0. Later in the inning, Bowen McGuffin singled to right field to end Auburn’s scoring for the night with a RBI.
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South Carolina would get on the scoreboard with a Madison Stokes RBI in the top of fifth to trim lead to 5-1.
Then the Gamecocks made things interesting in the sixth inning. South Carolina loaded the bases and drove in three runs to make the score 5-4. Will Holland saved the tying run from scoring with a magnificent play to end the inning.
South Carolina did not threaten again until the ninth inning. Luke Jarvis, with a runner on third, made a diving save to get the second out in the ninth and prevent the tying run from scoring. On the final play of the game Mize switched from stretch to the wind up, and with a runner on third South Carolina tried to bunt the tying run home. Mize stumbled off the mound, but gathered himself made the final out.
Game two in the series is Saturday night at Plainsman Park at 5 CST. Auburn will go for the series win over South Carolina, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
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