Auburn took an early lead in Thursday’s game at Missouri and carried that momentum throughout, never giving up the lead in a 15-6 win.
In an impressive offensive performance, Ryan Bliss, Rankin Woley and Kason Howell combined to go 11-for-17 with five runs, four doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs in the game.
“Nobody has seen the ball as good as Rankin Woley has the last three weeks, and Ryan Bliss is consistent as all get out," said head coach Butch Thompson. "Kason Howell pokes his head out tonight and hits two home runs on breaking balls with two strikes."
Both Bliss and Woley had four hits Thursday, and Bliss and Howell had career-best nights with five runs each in the game. Howell hit two home runs and tacked on three extra-base hits for the second time this season.
Auburn had multiple players with four hits and five RBI in the same SEC game for the first time since a 20-3 win at Georgia back in March of 2010.
“We linked up really well tonight, and when 1-9 is hitting and battling at-bats, it’s very hard to get us out,” Bliss said. “We showed why we are one of the best hitting teams in the SEC.”
Pitcher Jack Owen also put on a show, earning the win as he threw 6.2 innings. Owen allowed only two runs on four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
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“It was good to get those first couple zeros and give my offense a chance to grow that lead,” Owen said. “Once we got them down, the offense started exploding.”
Auburn struck first in the first inning, taking a 2-0 lead thanks to an infield single, a sacrifice fly by Judd Ward and an RBI double by Bliss.
Woley was hot all game, hitting a single in the first and then a solo home run in the third. The home run was No. 10 of the year and his fourth in the last five games. He also tacked on an RBI double in the fifth.
Owen piggybacked off the offense's momentum as he threw just 59 pitches in his first five innings of work.
Howell turned the Tiger’s growing lead into an even bigger one with a two-run homer in the sixth. Bliss drove in two more runs with a single up the middle of the field, marking his 26th multi-hit game of the year.
Missouri attempted a comeback in the seventh when they reached on a leadoff error but only scored two runs.
Howell continued to carry the Tigers in the eighth when he hit a three-run homer to left, putting Auburn up 11-2. Bliss and Woley both continued their hot streaks as each tacked on their fourth hit of the game as Bliss hit an RBI double and Woley hit a single.
Missouri scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth and two more in the ninth, but the Auburn lead was too much to overcome as Auburn came away with the win 15-6.
The second game of the series will be played on Friday at 6:30 pm CST.
“We played some big offense and hopefully we can come back out here with the same mindset and be able to do that tomorrow,” Thompson said. “We’re in postseason baseball, so there’s no other option than to come out and play good, consistent baseball."
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