A Bull, a Canadian and a freshman walk into a baseball game — and out comes an Auburn victory.
In a come-from-behind victory, No. 23 Auburn baseball took the first game of a three-game series against No. 17 Ole Miss, 7-4 on Thursday evening at Plainsman Park.
Down 4-1 in the second inning, the Tiger faithful in attendance were anxious with Garrett Wade at the mound.
Making his first SEC start, Wade pitched a wild 2.3 innings for the Tigers. Wade gave up five hits, four runs and committed two costly errors in a mostly down night for the true freshman.
Wade committed two throwing errors that both led to scores for the Rebels. His first came after misfiring a routine grounder to second, throwing the ball to shallow center, advancing two runners. The score increased to 3-1.
His second came as he fired a grounder into the dirt, heading to first, sending a runner home to send the lead to 4-1.
Having seen enough midway through the second head coach Butch Thompson called for freshman Richard Fitts to take the mound.
Fitts went 4.3 innings, allowing four hits while blanking the Rebels on the scoreboard. He struck out four and threw 72 percent of his pitches for strikes, throwing the opposing batters into, well, fits.
“Richard Fitts did it for us tonight when we really needed it, against a really good offense,” Thompson said postgame. “His slider took the swing out of the left handed at bats and it was amazing.”
The momentum Fitts built on the mound carried over into the bat of Canadian Edouard Julien, who drove in four of the Tiger’s seven total runs.
His first score of the night came from a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first, scoring a runner to tie the game at one apiece.
Julien scored two in the bottom of the third behind a single to left field that touched the top of the left-field wall, putting Auburn down only 4-3.
“I think that at bat was big,” Julien said. “I knew I had to put something in play to get us on the board.”
Auburn's (25-13, 9-7 SEC) bats laid dormant until the bottom of the sixth, when Will Holland, on his birthday, slapped an RBI single on a fielder’s choice to tie the game at four. The next at-bat was by Steven Williams, who narrowly missed a home run at the right-field wall, but ended up scoring one to give the Tigers their first lead of the game at 5-4.
In the seventh inning, the play of the game occurred, courtesy of Julien. On a change-up that hung over the plate, Julien took the ball 108 mph off the end of his bat for a joyride that went 404 feet and touched the top of the right-field American flag.
“Usually I have troubles getting through balls to right field,” Julien said “I saw that change-up and it went in the air and I knew it was gone.”
Ryan Bliss scored the final Auburn run in the eighth with a sacrifice fly out to edge the lead to 7-4.
In relief of Fitts was a man aptly named “The Bull.” Cody Greenhill, known for fast pitches and a mean on-field attitude, came in in the eighth and pitched a pair of scoreless innings. He fanned three, didn’t allow a hit and almost every pitch he threw touched more than 95 mph.
“I don’t ever give enough credit to Cody Greenhill,” Thompson said. “He was fresh tonight. He let the baseball go. He has been winning some big games and he is one of our steadiest pieces. He has done unbelievable work. ”
Auburn, previously losers of six out of its last seven, are now back in the win column and will look to take the series Friday evening at 6 p.m. CST.
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