Joseph Gonzalez and Hayden Mullins pitched the Tigers to a 6-5 victory over in-state opponent UAB on Tuesday, with all 27 outs split between the two young pitchers.
This is the Tigers’ first true road game since defeating North Carolina in June of 2019.
“It was just really good to get out back out,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “That’s what baseball presents is an opportunity 48 hours later to get back out on the field and play a game in this beautiful park.”
Gonzalez put on a show in his first career start, retiring the first 15 batters he faced while striking out seven. Mullens was brought in during the sixth inning and recorded the Tigers’ last 12 outs, with eight coming from strikeouts.
“I was just really excited to see Joseph Gonzalez start tonight,” Thompson said. “He was exciting, and then Hayden Mullins took it the last four innings for us. Two freshmen stepped up in a big way.”
The pair had a combined season-high 15 strikeouts while allowing no walks and only three hits throughout the game.
“It was amazing to see that from (Joseph),” Mullins said. “First collegiate start and he goes out there and shoves and doesn’t give up a hit until the sixth. It was good to see that. We’re seeing a lot of younger guys step up, and we really need that after this past weekend.”
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The Tigers led 2-0 after scoring an unearned run in the second inning and a Bryson Ware ground-rule double in the sixth. Auburn then made a baserunning mistake leading to four unanswered UAB runs coming off three hits and two walks.
Down 4-2 in the eighth inning, Auburn got its first three hitters on base with two walks and a hit-by-pitch. All three runners eventually came in to score with a Tyler Miller sacrifice fly to left field, and a Brody Moore, bases-loaded single up the middle.
Auburn then capitalized on a Blazer fielding miscue and took a 6-4 lead into the top of the eighth.
An Auburn fielding mistake led to a UAB score to make the game 6-5, but Mullins closed the ninth inning out, pitching a 1-2-3 to seal the Tigers’ win.
“It was nice to see us come back in a ballgame,” Thompson said. “I thought, after the four spot UAB put up in the sixth inning, we responded well. We hadn’t had too many opportunities to do that this year and it was good to see from our offense.”
Auburn’s Rankin Woley had a season-high three hits while reaching base on all five of his plate appearances, marking his third multi-hit effort in the last four games. Ware was 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of walks, scored and drove in a run.
The Tigers move to 8-4 on the season and return home to Plainsman Park for a three-game series against Little Rock (5-5) starting Friday at 4 p.m. CST.
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