AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn wrapped up its SEC home slate with a series win against Texas A&M, defeating the Aggies 8-5 in the series finale Sunday at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers’ pitching trio of Trace Bright, Joseph Gonzalez and Carson Skipper gave up just two earned runs and didn’t walk a batter while striking out nine.
“It was amazing what Trace Bright, Joseph Gonzales, and Carson Skipper did,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “If we had gotten past those guys, we were going to be looking at guys’ third outing since Wednesday. I tip my hat for what these three men did for us today.”
The middle of the order led the way from the plate, going a combined 9-for-19 with five runs and five RBI. Kason Howell was one of four players with multiple hits and matched a career high with three RBI.
“You have to have a simple approach and look for the fastball,” Howell said. “You can’t be guessing or anything. You just have to react and put your hands where the ball is, hit it hard and see what happens.”
Bright opened the game on the mound for the Tigers and gave the team four strong innings, allowing three runs, but just one earned, on six hits.
“It was just my job to get out there and give us a chance to win. That’s all I wanted to do,” Bright said. “I wish I could’ve gone a little bit longer, but Joseph did a great job coming in and picking me up.”
Leading 7-3, Gonzalez (2-3, 6.37) entered in relief to start the fifth and retired Texas A&M in order. The freshman gave up a tough luck run on a hit batter and a pair of bloop singles in the sixth, and Texas A&M narrowed the lead to two on an unearned run in the eighth.
However, Auburn got the run back as Judd Ward laced a ball back at the pitcher to drive in Garrett Farquhar and make it an 8-5 ballgame. Farquhar entered in place of Brody Moore in the second inning and went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI in the game.
“He’s taken every rep with these guys in practice, and he’s made the most of his opportunity and helped the ball club this week,” Thompson said of Farquhar.
Carson Skipper worked around a one-out single and struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his first save of the season. The junior righty has earned two wins and a save in his last three outings.
Auburn (22-25, 8-19 SEC) wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard with a three-run first inning. The Tigers took advantage of a Texas A&M fielding error to score the first run and added two more as Howell laced a two-run single thru the left side.
Texas A&M (28-25, 8-19 SEC) answered with a solo home run to lead off the second inning, but Auburn answered with three more in the home half. The first run came in to score on Texas A&M’s second error of the game before Rankin Woley and Farquhar hit RBI singles to make it a 6-1 ballgame.
The Aggies threatened to cut into Auburn’s lead with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third. However, Bright induced a ground ball and Woley made a nice play at third, stepping on the bag and throwing across the diamond, to get out of the inning unscathed.
Texas A&M scored a pair of unearned runs on a throwing error in the fourth, but Auburn responded as Howell followed Cam Hill’s two-out double with his second RBI knock of the game. Both of Hill’s two hits in the games were doubles.
Leading 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Auburn threatened to extend its advantage but couldn’t capitalize with the bases loaded and nobody out. Nonetheless, the three-run advantage through seven was more than enough for Gonzalez and Skipper to finish it off.
The Tigers wrap up the 2021 home slate vs. North Alabama Tuesday, May 18 at 6 p.m. CT.