The Auburn dugout had plenty to yell about in their 4-1 win over Texas A&M.

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Casey Was Simply A-Mize-Ing Again

At The Ballpark


At first I thought to myself, “Dang me, I missed seeing vintage Casey Mize by a week,” after the Junior right-hander tossed a no-hitter last week vs. Northeastern. But I guess I wasn’t totally correct in that assessment. Tonight, in the No. 15 Tigers’ Friday night matchup with No. 9 Texas A&M, the Big Mizer set a personal-best 13 strikeouts with no walks and five hits in 7.1 innings of work to help the Plainsmen quell the Aggies 4-1 in game one of a three-game weekend.

I walked out of Plainsman Park tonight thinking, “Man I’m glad I decided to make it to Auburn tonight after all.”

Casey Mize offers up another Friday night discombobulator from the mound against a baffled Texas A&M batter.

But before you read on, if you wanna check out Mark Etheridge’s epic account of Mize’s no-hitter from last week vs. Northeastern, check out this link:

https://d1baseball.com/features/dont-say-that-word/

Now on to what I saw tonight on the Plains…

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WHAT I SAW AT PLAINSMAN PARK
Casey Mize was Casey Mize and the Aggies were a little bit generous in giving up four errors, six walks and two hit-batsmen to help Auburn take down Texas A&M 4-1 in the Friday opener of the SEC schedule for both teams.

LINESCORE:
Tx A&M – 000 000 100 – 1  6  4
Auburn – 101 101 00x –  4  2   1

PITCHING
WP: Casey Mize, 5-0
LP: Stephen Kolek, 3-2
Save: Calvin Coker, 3

TOP HITTERS.
Aggies:
– Braden Shewmake, 2-for-4
– Chris Andritsos, 2-for-4, RBI

Tigers:
– Luke Jarvis, 2-for-4
– Steven Williams, 0-for-3, 2RBI

RECORDS:
– Texas A&M, 16-3, 0-1 SEC
– Auburn, 18-1, 1-0 SEC

As usual, Braden Shewmake was the star for A&M’s offense tonight.

HOW IT WENT DOWN: 
Casey Mize was very courteous tonight. The game was already scheduled for a wee-bit late 7pm start time, but the rains started to fall just before the umpires meeting at home plate, so the start to the SEC season was pushed back to 7:45pm start time. But worry not, it would not end up being a late night on the plains.

Mr. Mize, the Tigers ace, made sure he made rather quick work of the Aggies vaunted batting order and help speed tonight’s game along. After he helped AU to a 4-1 win, the length of the game ended up being a rather brisk 2-hours, 26-minutes. Nicely done.

In the first three innings of the game, Mize faced 10 batters and struck out seven of them. The only hitters to actually put a good tag on one of Mize’s pitches was Braden Shewmake, who sliced a sharp single into center field, and catcher Hunter Coleman, who crushed a fastball way way way over the left field wall, but was foul by a good 20 feet or so. Other than that, the first time through the A&M order made the Aggies look completely overwhelmed.

Mize was routinely hitting 95-96, even though it doesn’t look like he is throwing that hard. Having a low-80s curve ball and a low-90s cutter doesn’t hurt his cause of course. Mize had a pitch count of 52 through the first four innings, but Chris Andritsos finally reached Mize for his second hit of the game, a double off the left field wall with no outs. But Mize clamped down immediately, mixing up his fastballs and sliders and cutters and struck out the next three batters to get out of the jam.

Through the first five innings, Mize struck out the side three times. And in case you were wondering, he was still hitting 94 on the guns as he was pitching in the eighth inning. An error by first baseman Brendan Venter was the final straw. Pitching coach Steve Smith felt compelled to yank him with one out in the penultimate inning. For the game, Casey Mize had 13 strikeouts with zero walks and lots of shaking heads from the Aggie dugout. How good was he? Mize tossed 98 pitches on the night and  72 of them went for strikes. My God, it’s unfair.

Meanwhile on the other side of the field, Steven Kolek was being generous. The Aggie starting pitcher didn’t have a bad game but it just wasn’t enough. He only gave up only two hits but also gave up five walks, two plunkings and a balk. That and four Aggie errors made up for most of the offense that the Plainsmen had. But it was enough. It also seemed like every time Kolek went into the stretch, he struggled.

Aggie starter Stephen Kolek wasn’t bad on the mound tonight, but in a game where runs were at a premium he wasn’t quite up to snuff.

Following Mize’s exit, things got a little bit hairy when Braden Shewmake singled to put runners at the corners against Auburn reliever Calvin Coker. Up came Logan Foster, who came in hitting .609 with runners in scoring position. But Coker was able to induce a groundout to short to retire Foster and preserve the three-run lead. You could audibly hear the crowd and the dugout give a sigh of relief.

It also marked the last time A&M would threaten in this game and give Auburn a much-appreciated SEC-opening win.

COACH SPEAK
What Auburn coach Butch Thompson said after the game.
“I just really enjoyed those first five or six innings. Being in this conference for 17 years now you know what a quality ball club looks like and that team (Texas A&M) is a really high quality ball club. But we played at a high level with Casey Mize on the mound.”

“Just seeing the swings that (A&M’s) Braden Shewmake and Logan Foster put up, you just hold your breath every time they are up there. But our guys played an unbelievable ball game. With Casey getting close to the century mark and Calvin Coker able to come in and get us to the finish line, those are our two game balls we gave out tonight.”

Coach Thompson addresses his charges in the dugout after the 4-1 win and gives out the game balls.

“We eeked out two hits there. But Luke Jarvis was really ready to go getting a triple right off the bat and then getting a bunt single in his next at-bat, he showed a lot of gamesmanship tonight. But we’ve really got our hands full for the next two days against these guys.”

“I think in these last two outings Casey’s fastball has really played up as well as I’ve seen in the three years of coaching him. This is back-to-back weeks where his new pitch, his cutter, is really rounding into shape. It’s kinda like a wedding, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. He’s got this cutter going now and what has really allowed him to grow as a pitcher is this split-finger. I mean he had 13 strikeouts against not a good offense, but arguably one of the best offenses in the nation. That’s a hat-tipping performance.”

PICS
A few more images from tonight’s SEC opener in Auburn, Alabama…

Head coaches Butch Thompson of Auburn and Rob Childress of Texas A&M share a pregame chuckle.

 

But make no mistake, the Auburn bench was locked-in from the first pitch to the last out tonight.

 

Tiger leadoff hitter Luke Jarvis went oppo-taco a screamer toward the right field wall in the first inning.

 

Texas A&M right fielder Alone Wingate goes airborne but can’t quite handle the pop fly as it careens off the wall.

 

… that leads to Luke Jarvis getting a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning. He would come home to score on Steven Williams’ RBI groundout one pitch later, giving the Plainsmen the lead for good.

 

In this day and age of overuse of bubble wrap and regulations, it was refreshing to see that the Auburn bat girls were not required to wear protective helmets like you see everywhere else in college baseball. Let your freak hair fly girls.

 

Now on to what else happened around the country today in our beloved sport.

THREE UP
The best of the day in college baseball

1- The Snowbirds of the ACC: Notre Dame & Boston College
For the second time this season the Irish flew south to play a traditional southern power in a venerable venue and did not blink. On opening weekend it was two wins at LSU, tonight it was an 8-7 win at Florida State. The Irish actually had the game under control, going up 8-2 at the singing of Take Me Out To The Ballgame, but allowed FSU to score two in the seventh and three in the eighth. But Irish reliever Cole Kmet got the Noles to go four-up, three-down in the ninth inning despite giving up a leadoff single. That’s a good job of handling the nerves.

BC won its first-ever game at Davenport Stadium in beating Virginia 6-2 tonight. Senior Jake Palomaki went 4-for-5 and also stole his 47th career base, good for third-most in program history, to lead the offense. Jacob Stevens threw a solid six innings, K’ing five and walking just one to pick up his third win.

2- South Florida’s no-hitter
The Fighting Bull mound flingers Shane Mcclanahan and Carson Ragsdale combined for 22 strikeouts – yes, twenty-two – and ZERO hits in a 12-0 win over Army today. McClanahan went 6.0 innings with 15 strikeouts and three walks and Ragsdale threw the final 3.0 innings with seven Ks and two walks. Offensively, Garrett Zech , the eight-hole hitter in the order, went 3-for-4 with a triple and a home run as part of a three RBI day. With the win, USF improves to 13-6 on the season.

3- Logan Gilbert, Stetson… again.
Man, you’ve gotta love to be Stetson head coach Steve Trimper right about now. His pitching staff is freaking ridiculous. Tonight, All American Logan Gilbert went 7.1 innings, giving up just two hits and striking out 11 as he led the Hatters to a 10-1 win over Rhode Island. Oh sure, beating the Rams here in March may not be sound like a huge deal, but when you consider the Hatters now have a team ERA of 1.65… it is, again, ridiculous.

Honorable Mentions
– Daniel Bies, Gonzaga pitcher
The Bulldog starter was a freakin’ bulldog on the mound today, gathering 13 strikeouts and giving up just three hits in eight innings of work as GU outlasted Pepperdine 1-0. Bies and reliever Casey Legumina combined for the three-hitter with just two walks. Gonzaga improved to 10-7 on the season overall.

– Sean Mooney, St. John’s pitcher
It was billed as a showdown between the two best aces in the Northeast as the Red Storm took on UConn and their ace Tim Cate. Well Mooney kept up his end of the bargain, throwing 7.0 innings, striking out seven and giving up three runs on eight hits. Okay, not earth-shattering stats, but keep in mind temperatures were in the 30s and it was windy out. Ouch.

– Baylor
What a start to Big 12 play for the Bears. Tonight’s 2-0 win over No. 8 Texas Tech was supplied by 8.2 innings of scoreless (well, obviously) work from Cody Bradford. The Friday ace gave up six hits and two walks but struck out seven to lead to his third win of the season.

– Dominic Canzone, Ohio State leadoff man
Talk about the consummate leadoff man, Canzone had five of the Buckeyes nine hits in the game including the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 12th to supply OSU with a 2-1 win over CSUN at Bill Davis Stadium. Canzone also led off the sixth inning with a double and came around to score the initial run of the game. Meanwhile, the Bucks improved to 12-6 on the season.

– Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers have had an up-and-down season so far, but they definitely want to take advantage of situations like this. Today was a high point for the men of the Norse as The U scored two runs in the eighth and a single run in the ninth to bust up a 3-3 tie and pull off a 6-3 upset of No. 7 TCU in Ft. Worth.  The Gophers improve to 13-7 on the year as the Frogs drop to 9-6.

– Wake Forest’s D.J. Poteet
The Demon Deacon leadoff hitter didn’t have much of a night against No. 12 Louisville, but then he strode up to the plate in the ninth inning and crushed a solo home run to right field to account for the game-winning run in a 2-1 upset of the Cardinals. Despite being just 8-10 on the season, the Deacs are now 3-1 in ACC play.

– Houston’s Trey Cumbie
The Cougar ace went the distance in a 1-0 white-knuckle win over New Mexico by holding the heavy-hitting Lobos to just four hits, zero walks and 10 strikeouts. The 104-pitch effort accounted for the Friday ace finally earning his first win of the season.

THREE DOWN
The worst of the day in college baseball

1- Double losses for the Mormon boys.
BYU dropped a pair of games to LMU at their home field today, First they lost 7-4 in a game that was a continuation of a suspended game from Thursday, where snow took over and the game couldn’t be continued. Then, in the nightcap, the Cougars lost 9-8 in 12 innings to drop the first two games of the West Coast Conference opening weekend. LMU capitalized on a pair of passed balls and a wild pitch to score the game-winning runs.

Coach Mike Littlewood said it best afterward, “We weren’t ready to play today. We came out without energy and didn’t compete. You’ve got to hand it to LMU. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now and executed when they needed to.”

2- Tim Cate, UConn
On a cold and windy day in Jamaica, New York, the Husky All American ace gave up 11 hits and six runs (four earned) in 5.0 innings of work as UConn lost a 14-4 rout to St. John’s. Don’t worry, he’ll be better this year.

3- Sean Hjelle, Kentucky
The big Scandinavian had a rough outing in a 9-4 loss at No. 5 Arkansas tonight. The strapping 6’10 monster of the mound lasted just 3.1 innings and gave up four hits, five walks and four runs in his start against the Razorbacks. Hjelle came into the day with a 4-0, 1.35 mark on the mound. He had also given up just four earned runs and four walks in his 26.2 innings coming into the day. Aye-yaye-yaye.

Dishonorable Mentions
– Michigan State. 
After going on an MSU podcast this past week and saying I was impressed with the Spartans and how they competed in three close games at the Dairy Queen Classic two weeks ago, Sparty goes out and gives up two runs in the top of the ninth in a 3-2 loss to Niagara. Both of the last two runs for NU scored due to Spartan errors. MSU drops to 5-11 now, while the Purple Eagles won their third game in 12 tries.

– Mississippi State.
Ugh, what an ugly night to kick off SEC play in their shiny new digs. The New Dude was witness to a 5-0 lashing at the hands of the Vanderbilt Commodores in a game that really wasn’t all that intriguing. The Bulldogs managed five hits and also received seven walks but still couldn’t put a single marker on the board. In addition to all this, only 4,860 fans made it to the new park, which has the capability to hold over 10,000-plus from what I understand. Did I read that correctly in the box score? That CAN’T be right.

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