It had been two years since Auburn baseball last played in the SEC Tournament. An extra two-and-a-half hours of waiting didn’t seem to bother the Tigers too much.
After a long delay in the Missouri vs. Texas A&M opening-round game Tuesday evening, Auburn made its return to the postseason with a tense 5-4 victory against Ole Miss in Hoover, Ala.
The later-than-expected start didn’t have any effect on the Auburn offense, which smacked 11 hits and forced 3 fielding errors from the Rebels.
On the mound, Casey Mize (7-2) relieved fellow starter Keegan Thompson and pitched 6 innings of 3-hit baseball. Mize allowed only 1 earned run in the victory.
Auburn catcher Blake Logan broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning with a solo home run over the left-field wall. Two frames later, the Tigers tacked on 1 more run behind a pair of singles and a wild pitch.
The run turned out to be crucial as Ole Miss center fielder Ryan Olenek hammered a solo home run in the top of the ninth to cut Auburn’s lead in half. Mize settled down after the bomb, though, with a groundout and a game-ending strikeout.
The Tigers originally took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with an impressive two-out rally behind the bats of shortstop Will Holland and center fielder Jonah Todd. Holland’s double and Todd’s triple brought in 3 runs, erasing Ole Miss’ early 2-0 advantage.
While the Rebels didn’t have any problem making solid contact against Thompson, Mize didn’t allow an earned run across his 6 innings of work Tuesday night. Mize, who was making his first appearance in 10 days, struck out 9 batters in an impressive win.
What’s next for Auburn baseball
The Tigers take on top-seeded Florida in a late-night matchup Wednesday.
The win guarantees Auburn baseball will play at least two more games at the SEC Tournament. The No. 8-seeded Tigers will face top-seeded Florida first. First pitch is set for 30 minutes after the game between No. 2-seeded LSU vs. No. 10-seeded Missouri concludes.
Auburn swept Florida, which went on to claim the best record in the SEC, to start conference play.