The West is Won
Color me impressed. Going in to the final SEC series against Ole Miss, I didn’t have any doubt that Auburn would secure a SEC West Championship. However, I didn’t think they would do it in such impressive fashion. Winning 5-3, 18-4, and 11-1, the Tigers absolutely blasted the 2nd best team in the West and after Thursday night (which was really the game changer, but more on that later) Auburn was able to cruise and sweep Ole Miss. I’m still in a bit of disbelief. Like I said, I knew they could do it but I didn’t think Auburn would do it THIS convincingly. Just think about these bullet points:
- The West title was the first for Auburn in 15 years. 15 years. In a division that has been dominated by Arkansas, Alabama, and LSU in recent years, Auburn exploded and not only won the west, but won it going away.
- Auburn scored 18 runs on Saturday. The most the Rebels have given up all year.
- The 20 regular season SEC wins is the most in program history for Auburn.
- This was the first time Ole Miss had been swept at home since 2003.
- Auburn trailed just 2 total innings all series, when Ole Miss went up 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth with two outs until Auburn took the lead back 5-3 with two outs in the Top of the 8th. That’s it.
So what was the difference maker? Well, for me there are three. It starts with Friday with Cory Luckie. For all of Luckie’s struggles this season, he held his own against both the SEC and that Nation’s best in Drew Pomeranz. Luckie’s only mistake was the 3 Run HR he gave up late in the game. Yes, he walked a tight rope all game but time after time Luckie pitched out of danger.
Then, well, let’s just call him the hero of the weekend. Sure Auburn will have a couple of guys with bigger and better statlines, but what Kevin Patterson did with one swing of the bat on Thursday was amazing. Auburn had 2 on and 2 out. The Tigers were trailing 3-2. I could imagine (and that’s just the fanboy/nerd in me) that Coach Pawlowski looked into his dugout and the exchange went something like this:
The Kraken in this case being Kevin Patterson, a behemoth who can destroy Ole Miss fans in a single swing. KP comes up, cold and facing Ole Miss’s best bullpen arm. KP took the first pitch for a ball and then took the 2nd pitch out of Swayze field. I know this will probably get taken down later but I uploaded the video just so you can hear the Ole Miss announcer’s reaction to the KP shot:
So what else can we say about one swing of the bat? A ton, actually. Huber was the SEC saves leader, Patterson was pinch hitting, Ole Miss was just an out away from putting a bow on this game and taking game one (I know Auburn still had the 9th, but still).
Huber retired two of Auburn's most dangerous hitters - Brian Fletcher and Hunter Morris - but couldn't sneak a slider past Patterson, who used his 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame to lift the baseball over the bullpen and into the student section behind the right-field wall.
He's hit 15 homers in only 95 at-bats as part of a potent Auburn offense that's belted an SEC-high 108 homers.
"I left it a little up, (Patterson's) got a long swing and I made one mistake," Huber said. "They capitalized."
"I wanted a slider and he left one hanging," Patterson said. "I just put a good swing on it and got it out of the park."
That’s all she wrote folks. The only other story of note was the relief work of Slade Smith in Friday. Cole Nelson, I guess, hit a wall going into the 4th inning. He got the first batter he face to ground out to short but then just got knocked around a bit. Double, RBI Double, Single, Walk, 2 RBI single, Walk. 3 Runs were in with the bases loaded and 1 out. Now the game was pretty much out of hand for Ole Miss (The Tigers led 10-0 going into the fourth and it was still 10-3 when Cole left). Still, Pawlowski made the call and sent Slade Smith in on relief. Smith got an RBI SAC Fly and Ground out to end the frame and then completely cruised going 5.2 innings/5h/0er/5k/0bb and picking up the win.
PITCHER OF THE SERIES: Slade Smith. He bailed the Tigers out of jam and dominated Ole Miss the rest of the night.
HITTING OF THE SERIES: Kevin “The Kraken” Patterson. One swing of his bat and Auburn gained the opening win and the confidence to sweep the Johnny Rebs.
JOBUs: 4 out of 4. JOBU is very pleased with this performance. Toomer’s has never looked prettier.