BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Auburn pitchers Joseph Gonzalez and Hayden Mullins combined to record all 27 outs as the Tigers defeated UAB, 6-5, Tuesday night at Regions Field.
“It was just really good to get back out,” head coach Butch Thompson said following the win. “That’s what baseball presents is an opportunity 48 hours later to get back out on the field and play a game in this beautiful park.”
Making his first career start, Gonzalez retired the first 15 batters he faced and struck out seven. Mullins (2-0, 0.00) came into the game in the midst of some trouble in the sixth and recorded the final 12 outs with eight coming via strikeouts.
“I was just really excited to see Joseph Gonzalez get his first start tonight,” Thompson said. “He was exciting, and then Hayden Mullins took it the last four innings for us. Two freshmen stepped up in a big way.”
The young duo allowed just three hits and didn’t issue a walk while striking out 15, the most in a game this season.
“It was amazing to see that from (Joseph),” Mullins said. “First collegiate start and he goes out there and shoves and doesn’t give up a hit until the sixth. It was good to see that. We’re seeing a lot of younger guys step up, and we really need that after this past weekend.”
Auburn jumped out to a 2-0 lead after scoring an unearned run in the second and doubling the advantage on Bryson Ware’s ground-rule double in the sixth. However, after an Auburn baserunning mistake led to an inning-ending double play, UAB answered with four runs on three hits, two walks and two wild pitches to take a 4-2 lead.
Down to its final six outs and trailing by two, Auburn put its first three baserunners of the eighth inning aboard on two walks and a hit-by-pitch, and all three runs came in to score. Tyler Miller lifted a sacrifice fly to left field before Brody Moore drove in the tying and go-ahead runs on a bases-loaded single back up the middle. A fourth run came in on a fielding miscue and made it a 6-4 ballgame.
The Blazers took advantage of an Auburn fielding mistake in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to one, but Mullins pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close the door.
“It was just like any other game. Go out there, get guys out, do my job.”
“It was nice to see us come back in a ballgame,” Thompson added. “I thought, after the four spot UAB put up in the sixth inning, we responded well. We hadn’t had too many opportunities to do that this year and it was good to see from our offense.”
Woley turned in a season-high three hits and reached base in all five plate appearances. It marked Woley’s third multi-hit effort in the last four games. Ware went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and scored and drove in a run.
The Tigers return to Plainsman Park to host Little Rock (5-5) in a three-game series starting Friday at 4 p.m.