A trip home from Omaha was on the line between Stanford and Auburn as they faced off in an elimination game on Monday. The Tigers were looking to extend their stay in the College World Series and face another SEC opponent this week. Well, thanks to a massive sixth inning, Auburn will be hanging around for a bit longer, defeating Stanford 6-2.
This was Auburn’s first win in the College World Series since 1997.
After Stanford took an early lead and benefited from pitcher Drew Dowd, who threw four innings and only giving up three hits, recording six strikeouts. It was exactly what the Cardinals were looking for until they had to make a pitching change in the 5th inning. It was Quinn Matthews coming out of the bullpen for Stanford, who was about to endure a tough inning in the sixth.
Struggling for four innings, Auburn found itself in a great spot in the 5th inning, trailing 2-0. The Tigers ended up leaving 2 runners on base after Stanford took advantage of some sloppy base running ended the inning. Yes, the Stanford pitching got them out of the jam, but Auburn was struggling to take advantage of opportunities.
The Tigers were led on the mound by Trace Bright, who broke an Auburn College World Series record by recording eight strikeouts in five innings of work. The pitching rotation ended the day with 16 strikeouts for the Tigers.
This wouldn’t be the case for the Tigers in the 6th inning, after loading the bases. Stanford pitcher Quinn Matthews walked in the first runner, struck out Brooks Carlson, but then felt the Tigers wrath. It was Cole Foster who stepped up to the plate and hit a rocket to left center, bringing home three runs in the process while he slid into second base. The Tigers led 4-2 and didn’t look back.
Speaking of Cole Foster, the Auburn 2B has been under the weather for the past few days and Tigers head coach Butch Thompson said that Foster is ‘doing all he can’ right now to keep himself healthy enough to play.
During his pregame show with the Auburn radio network, Thompson mentioned that the team is currently dealing with some type of illness.
“There’s a list of excuses that weakens us that we don’t have to talk about — traveling across the country and seven or eight guys on the toilet too much and not feeling well from a tough week,” Thompson said on the pregame radio.
“Every one of those are excuses. We got to post and play at one of the most special opportunities these boys — most of them will ever get in their life is in front of them today. So none of that matters. All of these excuses, you flush ’em, you put ’em away, and you got opportunity to go out and win a ballgame today in the College World Series.”
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 20, 2022
The four runs in the sixth inning were enough for the Tigers to mess around with their bullpen and add a few more runs off the struggling pitching staff of Stanford. A Brody Moore sac-fly in the seventh inning and the Bobby Pierce RBI Double gave Auburn a 6-2 lead. The Tigers offense finally opened up a bit, just enough to give them some wiggle room, which would be needed.
Tommy Sheehan allowed the Cardinals to load the bases, so Butch Thompson went to the bullpen and brought in Blake Burkhalter to get the final out. After getting close to making things interesting, Stanford couldn’t bring home a run and were staring down the barrel of elimination.
Thanks to the 6-2 cushion lead, the Tigers looked comfortable on the field and the mound, holding the Cardinals scoreless the rest of the way. This was the type of mid-game performance that Auburn needed to continue building momentum out of the losers bracket. The Tigers unloaded for 11 hits on Stanford, shutting down any type of defensive dominance we had seen earlier in the game.
Auburn’s Butch Thompson said after the game that he needed some advice on how to navigate the losers bracket and make it to the final series. So, he called Pat Casey from Oregon State and Ray Tanner from South Carolina, who both won a national championship after being down 0-1 in the College World Series. It seems as though the advice worked, at least for Monday.
It was the cutter from Blake Burkhalter that finished off the Cardinals and sent them home, while Auburn will be hanging around for at least a few more days.
Now we will get another SEC rematch on Tuesday night, with the Tigers playing Arkansas in another elimination game at 7pm ET.