Offensive onslaught leads No. 13 Auburn to run-rule victory vs. Austin Peay

Justin Hokansonby:Justin Hokanson03/10/24


AUBURN, Ala. – No. 13 Auburn turned in season highs in runs and hits and scored in every inning in a 24-5 run-rule victory to win the series against Austin Peay Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park.

“Just up and down the lineup, we kept churning it out,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “This is all about around home plate and inside those lines and your ability to win some of those wars. There’s a game within a game, that’s what’s so amazing about baseball.”

After suffering its worst loss of the season Saturday, Auburn’s 24 runs and 19-run margin of victory was the most and largest since defeating Alabama A&M 33-0 on Feb. 24, 2021. It marked the first time Auburn scored in every inning in a game since 2014.

“There wasn’t much to be said with this group, but I was really interested in today,” Thompson added. “I wanted today to get here and just see how this team would respond with so many new pieces. At least for a day, that was a good bounce back.”

Led by Cooper McMurray’s 4-for-4 day with three doubles, a homer and four RBI, four Tigers collected multiple hits and six drove in multiple runs. McMurray became the first player since Cole Foster in the 2022 Auburn Regional opener against Southeastern with four extra-base hits in a game.

“I think everyone knows that yesterday didn’t go as planned at all for us, but we were able to flush it and come back today with a fresh, new mindset,” McMurray said. “We were seeing the ball well and our pitching staff put the ball in the zone and got out. It was a good win for our team.”

Gavin Miller turned in a team-high five RBI with his first career homer going for a grand slam, and freshman Cade Belyeu hit his first career home run in the contest. Cooper Weiss and Deric Fabian went a combined 5-for-8 with eight RBI from the top of the lineup.

“It’s all about setting the tone,” Weiss said. “Whether it mean working a 10-pitch at-bat, whether it mean hitting four doubles, setting the tone was the name of the game, especially after a game like yesterday.”

After Austin Peay (11-4) took a lead on a two-run homer from the second batter of the game, but Auburn (12-3) controlled the game from then on, scoring 22 unanswered runs from the bottom of the first through the bottom of the fifth innings.

Highlighted by McMurray’s two-RBI double in the first and Fabian’s two-run homer in the second, the Tigers took a 5-2 lead through two and exploded for its biggest inning of the year in the third, scoring eight runs on six hits. McMurray started the onslaught with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly from Mason Maners. Weiss and Fabian then traded back-to-back two-RBI doubles to extend the lead to 10-2, and Miller singled through the left side to score another. McMurray came back around to cap off the inning with a 437-foot, two-run homer over the batter’s eye, his fifth of the season.

Making his first start of the season, Christian Herberholz settled down after allowing a two-run homer on the second batter of the game and pitched 2.2 innings before giving way to freshman Cam Tilly (3-0), who allowed one run on one hit with no walks and a strikeout in 2.1 innings of work. It marked Tilly’ third straight outing in which he earned the win. 

The Tigers tacked on two on a two-out single from Ike Irish in the fourth and scored for the fifth straight inning with seven runs on three hits in the fifth. Christian Hall lifted a sacrifice fly to center and the next six runs in the inning came with two outs. Weiss won the ninth pitch of his at-bat with a RBI single to left, and Irish drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 18-2. Miller then crushed a 2-0 fastball over the War Eagle wall in left field to cap off the frame.

The Governors scored after a leadoff hit batter started the sixth, but Auburn got the run back and then some with Belyeu’s two-run homer to right center, the first of his Auburn career.

Ben Schorr made his Auburn debut on the mound and recorded a three-pitch punchout to end the sixth inning after entering in relief of Drew Nelson. Konner Copeland made his season debut in the seventh and struck out three batters.

Auburn hits the road for four games next week, beginning with a matchup vs. Troy Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Madison, Alabama.

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