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Monday, Oct 2, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Auburn secures first conference sweep of season in win against Ole Miss

After a doubleheader sweep Friday, Auburn (30-19-1, 14-13 SEC) completed the sweep against Ole Miss (25-26, 6-21 SEC) Saturday with a 13-5 win over the Rebels.

The Tigers reached a double-digit score Saturday, the third time in the last four conference games, to finish the series strong, outscoring the Rebels 37-11. 

“To get to week nine and be able to put it together like this against the defending national champion, I tip my hat to our guys,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “The assistant coaches have done an amazing job staying consistent and staying with our guys and the guys played lights out. Most of the credit absolutely goes to these players on the field.”

The game was history in the making for Auburn’s ball club. The Tigers swept Ole Miss for the first time in Oxford since winning the SEC West in 2010, and claimed their first conference road sweep since 2018 against Alabama. Saturday's game also marked the first time the Tigers secured five straight SEC wins since 2011.

Auburn's lineup came to the plate ready to persevere, obtaining 20 hits, with Cole Foster, Bobby Peirce, Bryson Ware and Ike Irish smacking three hits each. Cooper McMurray’s five RBIs and grand slam in the top of the fifth gave the Tigers momentum heading into the back half of the game.

“They were spinning off-speed stuff to me all weekend. I sat on one and fortunately he hung one for me and I was able to put it over the fence,” McMurray said. “It’s all about sticking to our approach that we’ve talked about, thought about and put this plan together to get this team on the map.”

Following McMurray’s 13th home run of the season, giving the Tiger a seven-run lead, both fifth-year Kason Howell and freshman Chris Stanfield had RBI singles, making the score 9-0 heading into the sixth.  

Foster came prepared to continue his success at the plate all weekend with a solo home run in the third, giving him 10 home runs this season. Foster's weekend in Oxford consisted of going 9-for-15 at the plate, seven runs, six RBIs and three home runs. 

“Stay simple and do what we usually do,” Foster said. “Be on the fastball and from the fastball adjust, and I think we did a pretty dang good job of it. Keep your foot on the gas pedal. That’s been our motto the past few weeks. Play until 27 outs are over, don’t ease up. Our pitchers have pitched phenomenally the past three or four weeks. From one through nine, all of us are competing and grinding.”

Though the fifth inning is where Auburn's explosive offense proved strong, the Tigers entered the ring early with a two-run lead in the top of the second after Ware doubled down the left field line to put the Tigers in scoring position, and Irish took advantage, grabbing his fourth RBI in the last two games. 

Shortly after, Auburn doubled its lead with a hit from veteran catcher Nate LaRue which scored Howell on an error in the Rebels'  infield. 

Starting on the mound for the Tigers was junior Christian Herberholz who retired his first seven batters but had to leave the game early. Drew Nelson, the left-handed freshman, ultimately got the win with two scoreless innings at the bump. Zach Crotchfelt entered in relief of Nelson with quick eight pitches to retire the Rebels in order. 

Hayden Murphy also threw for Auburn followed by Chase Isbell to close it out. Auburn’s bullpen only gave up one walk in Saturday's game, making a total of four walks all weekend. 

McMurray kept up his offense until the game's end with a sacrifice fly in the ninth and his fifth RBI of the game. 

The Rebels placed five on the scoreboard during game three, but fell short of an SEC win at home with a popup to the middle infield to end the series. 

Auburn returns home to take on Jacksonville State (23-25) for the second time this season Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST. The game can be broadcasted on SEC Network+. 

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