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Maners broke the game open with a 3-run HR in the fourth. (Grayson Belanger/Auburn athletics)
Maners broke the game open with a 3-run HR in the fourth. (Grayson Belanger/Auburn athletics)

Auburn blows out Jacksonville State in run-rule fashion

AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn baseball was back home at Plainsman Park for another in-state midweek contest against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Despite falling behind early, the Tigers rallied and secured a 13-3 win by run rule in seven innings to improve to 16-8 on the season, with Jax State dropping to 9-15.

Jax State opened the scoring in the first inning, with shortstop Caleb Johnson driving a two-run home run to center field off Auburn’s Christian Herberholz. Soon after, a rain delay put a halt to the game in the top of the first, with action picking back up 40 minutes later. The break seemed to help Herberholz, who after the delay pitched 3.2 more innings, striking out seven Gamecock batters in the process, though he did allow one more run on an RBI double from third baseman Brennen Norton in the top of the third.

Ike Irish opened the scoring for Auburn, driving a home run off the batter’s eye in center field in the bottom of the first inning. From then, the Tigers were held scoreless until the fourth inning, when the bats arrived with force. Chris Stanfield homered to center field, Ike Irish recorded an RBI single, and Carter Wright smoked a 2RBI double to right center while pinch-hitting for Gavin Miller. Finally, Mason Maners blasted a three-run homer to right-center field to cap a 7-run inning for the Tigers’ lineup that gave Auburn an 8-3 lead.

Auburn didn’t let up in the fifth inning, either. Ike Irish hit a sacrifice fly to right field, and just minutes later Cooper McMurray recorded his tenth homer of the season in Grand Slam fashion. After the offensive barrage, the Tigers found themselves in possession of a commanding 13-3 lead as the game entered the top of the 6th. 

“I don’t think we’re one-dimensional,” said Auburn coach Butch Thompson when asked about the Tigers’ big night on offense. “I do think we have the potential to do some damage, but I think we’re better when somebody’s out there bouncing around on the bases and we can get a bunt down. I think we hopefully are getting closer to realizing what our identity is what what playing full and complete offense is.”

Auburn’s pitching staff also had a good night. Christian Herberholz’s final line was 4.0 innings pitched, 5 hits allowed, 3 earned runs, and 7 strikeouts. Though this line might not look overly impressive, one of Herberholz’s “earned” runs was oddly not recorded as an error despite the hit that drove it in glancing off of third baseman Gavin Miller’s glove. Another of Herberholz’s “earned” runs was recorded by a baserunner who appeared to be clearly out at first base but was controversially ruled otherwise by the first base umpire. 

As for the bullpen, it was a welcome clean showing. Dylan Watts pitched the 5th inning, allowing no hits or walks and striking out two batters. Alex Petrovic entered for the 6th and, despite allowing two hits and a walk, still struck out three batters and allowed no runs. Zach Crotchfelt entered for the 7th and finished the game for Auburn, walking two, striking out one, and allowing no earned runs in an inning of work.

“I think we started shooting for the pin more,” said Thompson when asked about the improved bullpen. “I think [there is] a little more trust and a little more faith that you’re good enough and you don’t have to throw this thing right down the middle.”

The entire Auburn squad will need more of this belief this weekend, as the Tigers will travel to College Station to take on the 4th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies. First pitch is scheduled to be at 6 pm CT on Thursday and Friday and 7 pm CT on Saturday. Coverage can be found on SEC Network+ for Thursday and Friday and SEC Network for Saturday, with coverage of all three games also available on the Auburn Sports Network.

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