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Auburn withstands late Missouri surge, wins first SEC series

 The Auburn Tigers (25-25, 5-21) took down the Missouri Tigers (22-30, 8-19) 9-7 Sunday afternoon in Columbia, Missouri, claiming their first SEC series win of the season.

Before Sunday, Auburn’s last series win in conference play came almost a year before, when they took down the same opponent on May 19, 2023. In the final game of the weekend series, the Tigers were able to do just enough to take the contest.

"It is (nice), especially to bounce back after a tough game Friday night," Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said of the series victory. "A couple of challenges that we have are still there, but we played enough offense all weekend."

Redshirt senior Christian Herberholz was tasked with the starting job against the home Tigers. He made the most of his outing, pitching five scoreless innings. Herberholz earned his second win of the season and tied his season high in innings pitched.

"I was really happy I could just let my defense play behind me and get back in the dugout as quick as I could," Herberholz said. "I'd say my last two innings I felt my best. Being a starter my whole career, I've always gotten stronger as the game went on and today was no different. I just felt really, really good towards the end of the game and felt really under control."

The bats got off to a hot start thanks to a solo home run from freshman Cade Belyeu and RBIs from sophomore Ike Irish, redshirt junior Cooper McMurray and senior Carter Wright. Auburn continued to build on their four-run lead, extending it to eight by the top half of the eighth behind a three-run bomb from sophomore Chris Stanfield.

Stanfield built on his already impressive series, adding two hits, three RBIs and a stolen base to his weekend total. He was firing on all cylinders this weekend, totaling at least two hits and an RBI in each game, while extending his hit streak to eight games.

Another standout bat for the Tigers on Sunday was Florida transfer Deric Fabian. In his four at-bats, Fabian grabbed three hits, two RBIs, two runs and a stolen base. His two-RBI single in the top half of the eighth proved to be huge in the closing innings.

After building a dominant eight-run lead going into the bottom of the eighth, the Tigers had to stumble across the finish line. A 9-1 game quickly turned into a 9-6 contest after Missouri put up a crooked number in the home half of the eighth. Another run in the ninth saw them pull within two, before sophomore Hayden Murphy was able to close the deal for Auburn.

Though the SEC tournament is mathematically out of reach for Auburn, they will look to ride the momentum of the series win into the final series of the season against rivals Alabama. The Tigers will look to avenge their series and SEC tournament losses to the Tide from last season.

The season finale is set for games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as Thompson’s squad will be at home for the final time in the 2024 campaign. All three games will have live radio on the Auburn Sports Network.

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