SEC Tourney: Day One WrapNotebook
HOOVER, Ala. — After the last two weeks, Auburn coach Butch Thompson wasn’t sure what to expect from sophomore Casey Mize when he trotted out of the bullpen in relief of starting pitcher Keegan Thompson against Ole Miss.
For all intents and purposes, Auburn was already in the postseason entering Tuesday’s contest, so this year’s trip to the SEC tournament was all about getting everyone on track and in a positive state of mind. Auburn really wanted to get Mize on track, too. After all, he along with Thompson, are the keys to Auburn’s postseason success. The sophomore righthander has had some terrific moments throughout the spring, but also has suffered some injury setbacks. Two weeks ago against LSU, Mize sat 93-95 and up to 96 mph with his fastball, but didn’t have command of the splitter and allowed five runs on six hits in just four innings. Following his start in Baton Rouge, Thompson made it clear that he didn’t Mize was throwing at full strength, thus he missed his next start against Ole Miss last weekend.
So, when Mize wanted the ball and the Tigers trotted him out there after Keegan Thompson allowed two runs in three innings Tuesday, it was a telling moment for AU’s postseason chances. Would Mize come out firing and dominate, or would he shows signs, again, of not being quite there from a stamina standpoint?
Auburn got exactly what it was looking for from Mize, as he was electric in relief in a 5-4 win over the Rebels and was mobbed by his teammates immediately after.
“I thought it was pretty good, because I wasn’t real sure what I was going to get. We’ve been waiting [for Mize] to get back,” Butch Thompson said. “Keegan wasn’t as sharp after starting Thursday, but he did the job to start us off and give it to Casey. I thought the splitter was really good. The last two starts he’s had as he’s tried to come back [from injury], he hasn’t commanded the ball as well. He had much more command tonight and I thought it was a jolt in the arm for the club to see him going like that.
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