Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekend Recap: Mark of the Beast

 

I’ve said before, baseball is a game of numbers, and this weekend one number popped up more and more: 6.

On Friday Auburn scored 6 runs in the top of the ninth to beat Mississippi State 9-8. Then, on Saturday, MSU topped Auburn 8-3 to give the Tigers 6 SEC losses on the year. Finally, on Sunday, AU erased a 6 run deficit to win 12-10. Giving Auburn it’s 6th SEC wins and evening the SEC record to 6-6. Creepy huh?

THE GAMES

FRIDAY

I listened to the game at work and honestly had given up hope when we entered the ninth. MSU had a solid closer and AU had just looked lost for the majority of the night. I wasn’t the only one. As anyone who has listened the Rod Bramblett called game, you tell within seconds how Auburn is doing, and he sounded like he was teetering on the ledge. That ninth inning was the story of the night and honestly was the story of the weekend. But how did it happen?

Before, like I said, Auburn looked lost. They did jump out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to some timely hitting from Tony Caldwell and Joe Sanders, but MSU would take a 6-3 lead into the ninth and looked to put the Tigers away for good.

In that ninth: TC lined out. 1 away. Then Ben Jones singled, Fletcher doubled, and Casey McElroy was up. A C-Mac ground out platted a run, but also got MSU closer to shutting the door. 6-4 Bulldogs. 2 Outs. Then, to me, came the crucial part of the ball game. Kevin Patterson was up to bat. Yes, one swing of the bat could have tied it (and normally that’s KP weakness) but to his credit and patience, KP held in there, looking for something he could hit.

Let’s take your through that sequence of pitches to KP. Ball. Then Strike looking, followed by Strike swinging. The count moved to 2-1. Again, KP is a power guy and this was a terrible count to be in. One chase pitch and the ball game is over. Two straight balls and the count was full 3-2. Then KP rattled off 4 straight fouls before finally wearing out the MSU pitcher and drawing a 2 out walk. Fabulous at bat.

Justin Hargett then came up and delivered a solid knock. Scoring Brian Fletcher and Chezz McCann (the other C-Mac, pinch running for KP). Game tied 6-6. (there’s that number again). However, Auburn wasn’t done. After a Trent Mummey walk, Joe Sanders sent a no doubter out of the park. Auburn’s comeback was complete and the lead now was 9-6. 6 runs in the top of the ninth. 5 of those coming with two outs.

After the normal case of the “yips” from the Bullpen, the Tigers would hold on and win 9-8.

SATURDAY

Did we play on Saturday? Could have fooled me. Tigers lose 8-3 after an off day from Jon Luke Jacobs spots MSU a 4-0 lead after the 1st inning. Leaving the AU bullpen to carry the rest of the load (never a good thing).

SUNDAY

I know the AU recap talks about the Tigers overcoming a six run deficit and how the Tigers blasted 4 home runs (C-Mac, Mummey, Caldwell, Sanders) in the top of the fifth to cut it to 8-7. It also mentions Tony Caldwell’s second HR of the game, which tied it a 9-9.

However, the real story is the fact that Auburn just walked away with the game. Literally.

In the top of the 8th, MSU and AU were tied 9-9 and Auburn already had two men gone. Sanders singled, then later advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch.

Then, well, the wheels fell off for the Dogs. Hunter Morris walked. Pitching change for MSU. Caldwell walked and the bases were loaded. Ben Jones walked. 1 RBI. Bases still loaded, AU up 10-9. Pitching change for MSU. Brad Ray walked. Another RBI. Bases still loaded. AU up 11-9. Kevin Patterson walked. a 3rd RBI. AU up 12-9. Bases still loaded. C-Mac hit into a FC to end the inning but the damage was done.

All told? 5 Straight walks. 3 different pitchers. 3 RBIs for Auburn without having to take swing and AU holds on for the game and ultimately, the series.

Sometimes its better to be lucky than good. Auburn was lucky.

JOBUS?

2. Barely. Yes a wins a win and Auburn is now .500 in the SEC. However, without 2 late innings collapses from MSU on Sunday and Friday, we’d be looking at a cool 4-8 league mark.

NOTES:

-Auburn now has 10 come from behind wins on the season

-This Auburn team now has 64 home runs. Best for 4th all time for a Tiger team (and we are barely 1/2 through the season)

-Interestingly, even though Auburn has an even SEC record, The Tigers have been outscored 90-70 in those games. Auburn has given up 7 runs or more 8 different times. Yet, have only scored 7 or  more runs 4 times.  Like I said, better to be lucky than good.

-Tony Caldwell finally broke MSU CF Grant Hogue’s streak of stolen bases. Hogue was 19 of 19 coming into the year. TC got him twice in the series. His first 2 Caught Stealings of the year.

-Auburn plays Georgia State and Bethune Cookman in midweek games. Auburn has won 12 straight non-conference games this season.

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