Tigers win in convincing fashion on second day of Jax Baseball Classic

Shocker starting pitcher Tommy Lapour pitching to Tigers’ shortstop Cooper Weiss. Photo courtesy of @goshockersbsb via Instagram.

By Nicholas Leo

A first-inning lead lasted a lifetime for Auburn in their game on Saturday, Feb. 24, against Wichita State in the Jax College Baseball Classic at Jacksonville’s 121 Financial Ballpark. The Tigers opened with a grand slam courtesy of Cooper McMurray on just their fourth at-bat. They only added on from there.

Auburn would have five at-bats with the bases loaded through three innings before winning by way of the 10-run rule as the Tigers defeated the Shockers 19-8 through seven innings.

“Trying to get a job done with the bases loaded, less than two outs… Luckily he hung one up middle for me, so I just put a good swing on it,” McMurray said.

Wichita went deep into their bullpen, using eight pitchers through the shortened contest. Collectively recording just three Ks and 16 walks, simply put, the Tigers put barrel to ball when they were not being awarded free bases. 

Starting Auburn pitcher Joeseph Gonzalez had what felt like a single blemish on his day, letting up a three-run shot to Dayvin Johnson in the second inning, making it a 7-3 ballgame. 

Shocker head coach Brian Green praised Dayvin Johnson’s versatile ability throughout the weekend, specifying his adjustment from the fall where he was getting under the ball. 

“But we’ll have to talk to him about pimping a home run when you’re chasing seven early in the game,” Green joked.

Dayvin Johnson watches his second-inning home run leave the ballpark. Photo courtesy of @goshockersbsb via Instagram.

The Tigers, quick to react, followed that by pouring in four more runs. Now a blown away contest at 11-3 in the third inning, the Shockers would strategize for the last day of the tournament; giving multiple young pitchers an opportunity on the mound to keep arms fresh for Sunday.

“It’ll be a spicy conversation when we get back with the team,” Green continued. “You want to see your guys compete, see them get hits not walks. Especially noncompetitive walks, so some of those guys who showed that and demonstrated that are going to have a tough time getting back on the mound.”

However disheartening the Wichita pitching was, the Auburn offense deserved the credit for their relentless scoring.

“I thought we had amazing at-bats,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “A good balance of being really aggressive, but also having a good evaluation of the strike zone.”

Opposing head coach Brian Green would all but agree, speaking highly of the well-seasoned ballclub that the Tigers have.

“A disappointing game, a disappointing effort from Tommy from the start,” Green continued. “Kudos to Auburn and their offensive approach. Early on they were just totally committed to backing the ball up, going to the opposite side, it was really impressive and that’s the offense we want to have.”

The Tigers managed the game better than the lion’s share, keeping men on and squeezing the most out of every inning. Auburn batted their way through the entire order in three of the seven innings played.

“A ton a damage at the top of the lineup, and when you keep flipping the lineup; the bottom of the lineup’s coming up every other inning, that’s how this thing’s supposed to work,” Thompson said. “But it’s harder some days than others.”

Auburn starting pitcher Joeseph Gonzalez tossing a ball to first baseman Gavin Miller. Photo courtesy of @AuburnBaseball via Twitter.

Though the defensive effort was far from par, both coaches acknowledged the effort put forth by the Wichita offense in the far-gone ballgame. Staying composed and competing while down 16-3 is no easy feat, and through the tough loss the Shockers were still able to stay motivated.

“I was proud of that effort, the scoreboard didn’t matter for us offensively they just kept competing,” Green said. “We scored seven or eight runs, normally that would be a decent effort against an SEC opponent.”

The 3-day tournament runs Feb. 23-25 and features college baseball teams from Virginia, Wichita State, Auburn and Iowa.

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