TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Auburn sophomore Casey Mize pitched a complete game and matched a season-high with 12 strikeouts as the Tigers advanced to the NCAA Tallahassee Regional championship game with a 5-3 win over Tennessee Tech Saturday night.
The Tigers (37-24) will play in the regional championship game at 6 p.m. CT Sunday at Dick Howser Stadium. Auburn will face the winner of Sunday’s first game between Florida State and Tennessee Tech, set for a noon CT first pitch.
“It was a good game all around,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “For Casey Mize to throw a complete game under 100 pitches in a college baseball game is amazing. He was really fresh tonight and just competed his heart out. Luke Jarvis made a couple of the nicest plays I’ve seen at second base. And I tip my hat to how good the approaches were … of Tennessee Tech’s hitters. Casey had to work really, really hard, and he did. We grinded out enough, and then Jay’s home run in the eighth was huge for Casey to go back out and finish the game with a two-run lead.”
The complete game for Mize (8-2) was the first by an Auburn pitcher in a postseason game since 2003, and his 12 strikeouts matched a career-high set three other times this season.
Mize also recorded his 100th strikeout of the season in the third inning; he is the first Auburn pitcher with 100 or more strikeouts in a season since Chris Bootcheck had 101 in the 2000 season. He now has 109 for the season.
Junior Jay Estes, playing in front of hometown fans, delivered a key insurance run with two outs in the eighth inning as he blasted his first home run of the season off the left-field scoreboard, giving the Tigers a 5-3 lead and a bit more breathing room for Mize to finish the complete game. Estes reached all four times he came to the plate, going 2-for-2 with two walks.
The Tigers were also outstanding defensively, making several highlight-reel plays in the infield – most notably two diving stops that led to outs by second baseman Luke Jarvis in the sixth inning. Auburn has yet to commit an error in two games in the regional.
Jarvis also came through at the plate. He pushed Auburn ahead in the fourth with a 2-out, 2-RBI single through the left side, bringing home Estes and Sam Gillikin to make it 4-2. The Tigers had loaded the bases on an Estes walk, a Gillikin RBI double that tied the game 2-2, and an intentional walk to Jonah Todd.
Tennessee Tech (41-20), the nation’s leading home run hitting team, added a second bomb in the seventh inning off the bat of Casey Chambers to cut Auburn’s lead to 4-3, but Estes’ blast in the eighth provided the necessary breathing room.
Auburn jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first as Todd scored the game’s first run after a leadoff hit, a sacrifice bunt and a Daniel Robert RBI single brought him home. But Tennessee Tech’s Ryan Flick, the team’s leading home run hitter, led off the second with a deep shot to right center to tie it 1-1. The Golden Eagles took a 2-1 lead in the third with a two-out RBI double from Trevor Putzig.
Auburn is 2-0 in a regional for the first time since 1999. That year, Auburn defeated Tulane for the regional crown at Plainsman Park and advanced to a super regional where the Tigers faced Florida State.
Broadcast information will be announced by ESPN late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Tickets for Sunday’s regional championship are available at Seminoles.com.