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Pitching and explosive bats lead Auburn to doubleheader sweep over Missouri

<p>Lefty Konnor Copeland throws during the second game of Auburn baseball's double header against Missouri on Friday, May 8.&nbsp;</p>

Lefty Konnor Copeland throws during the second game of Auburn baseball's double header against Missouri on Friday, May 8. 

Auburn had no issue in its doubleheader Friday against Missouri (30-22, 10-19 SEC) as outstanding pitching and powerful bats pushed Auburn (32-19-1, 16-13 SEC) to a 4-0 victory in game one and a 7-2 victory in game two. The wins marked Auburn’s seventh consecutive SEC win, the longest streak in program history since 1995.

Only six Auburn pitchers took the mound between the two games Friday while the Tigers held their opponent to five runs or less for the seventh time in the last eight games.

Auburn also recorded five home runs from four different players over the two games to cruise to a series victory over Missouri.

Game one:

Led by a career high in strikeouts and innings pitched from Chase Allsup, Auburn notched game one of Friday’s doubleheader against Missouri, winning 4-0.

Allsup threw 101 pitches through seven innings to pick up his first win of the season as he struck out seven, only allowed three hits and walked two batters.

“That’s what we’ve always looked for with every opportunity with Chase Allsup,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “So glad that we got back, worked back around to him.”

Junior left-handed pitcher Tanner Bauman came on in relief of Allsup in the eighth and threw two hitless innings to pick up the save as Auburn recorded its first shutout of the season.

After loading the bases in the fourth inning, Auburn seemed poised to score the first run of the game but a strikeout and fly out ended those hopes. The Tigers waited just one inning later to finally get their first run across home.

Senior Kason Howell reached on an infield single and moved to second after a sacrifice bunt. A couple at-bats later, freshman Chris Stanfield stood in the box and hit a chopper to shortstop. Thanks to a tricky bounce that got by Missouri’s shortstop, Howell scored from second which gave Stanfield his 18th RBI of the season.

Auburn extended its lead in the sixth after third baseman Bryson Ware and designated hitter Ike Irish hit back-to-back home runs. After recording just two hits through four innings, Auburn’s offense suddenly came alive and tacked on three runs on four hits to grab control of the game.

Ware’s home run marked his 20th of the season — making him just the seventh Tiger in Auburn history to hit 20 or more home runs in a season.

Allsup maintained the Auburn lead in the seventh by allowing just one hit in the inning to end his day on the mound. His seven innings pitched and seven strikeouts surpassed his previous career highs of four innings pitched and five strikeouts.

Auburn scored one more run in the eighth after Irish grounded into a fielder’s choice which scored Bobby Peirce from third, the run marked Irish’s second RBI of the game.

Missouri batter Trevor Austin was hit by a pitch to start the ninth inning as Missouri looked to pull off a ninth-inning rally, but Bauman settled in and forced the next batter into a double play. Bauman’s next batter sent one into center field for an easy fly out to end the game drama-free, allowing the Tigers to take game one of the day and give Bauman the save.

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Game two:

Auburn’s hot pitching did not end after game one as the Tigers’ pitching staff used four pitchers to hold Missouri to two runs in game two, leading Auburn to a 7-2 win.

Left-handed senior Konner Copeland got the start in game two and shined. Picking up his fourth win of the season, Copeland went 5.1 innings and allowed just three hits and one earned run while striking out five.

After what’s been an inconsistent season for Copeland, he now feels confident that he’s turned his play around.
“It had to be a mental piece,” Copeland said. “Just going in knowing that I’m the best person out there at the time, and I’m better than the hitters and just having that mindset and just going out there and compete and shove into the zone. Just whatever happens happens after that.”

Chase Isbell, Zach Crotchfelt and Will Cannon followed Copeland to limit Missouri the rest of the game.

Cole Foster got things started in the first inning with a double down the left field line which scored Stanfield from second.

After the early start, it was all Auburn. Home runs from Cooper McMurray and Foster plus an RBI single from Caden Green pushed Auburn’s lead to 4-0. Missouri began to crawl back with a two-run homer off Isbell in the sixth, but Auburn responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Ware hit his 21st home run of the season to move two homers shy of the Auburn single-season program record.

Ware said matching or passing that record is not something he actively thinks about at the plate.

“I try not to think about it as much as possible,” Ware said. “Just try to stay in my approach, stay short, not try to do too much and just keep on doing what I’ve been doing all season. So, hopefully I can keep that going, and if I have a couple more home runs that’s great, but if not, I just try to help the team out as much as I possibly can.”

Irish scored off a passed ball and Carter Wright scored Howell with an RBI single in the sixth to stretch the Auburn lead.

Howell got on base in the sixth with a double to bring his Auburn career double tally to 71, tied for the most in program history.

Crotchfelt and Cannon allowed just one hit in the final three innings to preserve the win and give Auburn the series victory.

With the win, Auburn sits in a tie for sixth in the SEC with a 16-13 conference record.

Auburn caps off the regular season Saturday at 1 p.m. CST against Missouri before heading to Hoover, Alabama, for the SEC Tournament. Saturday’s game will be televised on SEC Network+. 

Jacob Waters | Assistant Sports Editor

Jacob Waters is a junior majoring in journalism. From Leeds, Alabama, he started with The Plainsman in fall 2021.

Twitter: @JacobWaters_

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