Red-hot Auburn completes sweep of Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. -- Auburn exploded for double-digit runs for the third time in its last four SEC games and completed its sweep of Ole Miss with a 13-5 win at Swayze Field Saturday afternoon.
In three games in Oxford, Auburn (30-19-1, 14-13 SEC) outscored Ole Miss (25-26, 6-21 SEC) 37-11. The 37 runs scored were the most in a series this season and the most in a three-game span since scoring 51 runs in the Auburn Regional last year.
"To be able to put it together like this against the defending national champion, I tip my hat to our guys," Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. "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 weekend marked Auburn's first SEC road series sweep since outscoring Alabama 44-10 in three games in Tuscaloosa in 2018. It also marked the first time the Tigers swept Ole Miss in Oxford since clinching the SEC West Division Championship in 2010. Dating back to winning the final two games against No. 1 LSU last weekend, it also marks the first time an Auburn team has won five straight SEC games since 2011.
All nine Tigers collected a hit in the game and eight of nine scored a run. Five of the team's first six hitters in Chris Stanfield, Cole Foster, Bobby Peirce, Bryson Ware and Ike Irish led the way with three hits apiece, while Cooper McMurray matched a season high with five RBI.
The Tigers' 20 hits surpassed Game One's total for the most in a league game this season and the most since recording 21 hits at Mississippi State on Mar. 24, 2019.
"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 of his fifth inning grand slam. "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."
The Tigers wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard as Ware started the second with a double down the left field line and scored two pitches later on a RBI single from Irish, his fourth RBI in the last two games. Auburn doubled its lead later in the frame when Nate LaRue hit a grounder back up the middle and Kason Howell scored from second as the slow roller hit off the infielder's glove and skipped into left center.
Starting pitcher Christian Herberholz retired six of the first seven batters he faced before exiting the game early. Freshman lefty Drew Nelson (3-3) entered in relief of the redshirt junior and turned in 2.0 scoreless with a strikeout en route to ultimately earning the win.
Foster continued his hot weekend at the plate with a solo home run on the first pitch of the third inning. The long ball was Foster's third of the weekend and his career-best 10th of the season. The junior shortstop finished the weekend 9-for-15 with seven runs, three homers and six RBI.
"Stay simple and do what we usually do," said Foster. "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."
Leading 3-0, Auburn turned in its largest inning of the weekend with six runs on seven hits in the fifth. The first three Tigers reached on a pair of singles and a walk before McMurray ambushed a first pitch breaking ball clear over the bullpen in right for a grand slam.
The home run was McMurray's 13th of the season. Auburn extended its lead to eight runs on a RBI single from Howell and made it a 9-0 game on a RBI single from Stanfield that shot passed the first baseman before he could react.
Fellow freshman left hander Zach Crotchfelt entered in relief of Nelson to start the fifth and needed just eight pitches to retire the Rebels in order.
A solo homer from Irish to start the top of the seventh made it a 10-0 game, and back-to-back two-out RBI singles from Foster and Peirce later in the inning extended the lead to 12.
Auburn allowed just four baserunners in the first six innings and none advanced further than first base.
However, the Rebels put their first runner in scoring position with a leadoff double in the seventh and ultimately scored four runs on a two-run double and two-run home run to avoid their second run-rule defeat of the weekend.
Chase Isbell entered in relief of freshman Hayden Murphy to start the eighth and held the Rebels scoreless.
The Tigers added a run on a sacrifice fly from McMurray in the ninth, his season-high-matching fifth RBI of the game, and Ole Miss answered with a run on if own in the home half.
It was too little, too late for the Rebels though as a pop-up to second base ended the game. Auburn's pitching staff that included three freshmen issued just one walk in the contest and just four walks for the weekend.
Auburn is set to cap off its midweek slate vs. Jacksonville State (23-25) Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT at Plainsman Park.