Butch Thompson Has Put Auburn Baseball Back on the National Map
Auburn coach Butch Thompson leads the Tigers in observing the national anthem prior to the game against Mississippi State in the 2019 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park (photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Auburn baseball bowed out of the College World Series Wednesday in a 5–3 loss to Louisville, ending one of the most improbable postseason runs in program history. We use the word improbable because this team had to overcome so many distractions both on and off the field to get to Omaha.
After losing ace pitcher Davis Daniel on opening day, the Tigers put together a 15-game winning streak. In addition they had to deal with injuries to starters Jack Owen and Tanner Burns while their best hitters, Will Holland, Steven Williams, and Edouard Julien, struggled for much of the regular season.
Then came the tragic loss of popular long time play-by-play announcer Rod Bramblett just before the team had to travel to the Atlanta Regional. Finally, this bunch had to play on the road through the entire postseason.
Yet, they accomplished what no Auburn team has done in over two decades:
* The Tigers played in their third consecutive NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001–03.
* Won the Atlanta Regional Championship by sweeping No. 3 Georgia Tech.
* Crushed No. 14 North Carolina to win their first Super Regional Championship in program history.
* Advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 1997.
Fate didn’t smile on the team in Omaha with errors playing a big part in their early exit. However, that in no way minimizes what this team accomplished in 2019.
After coming within one out of beating Mississippi State, the Tigers had to play in a rain storm against Louisville and fell behind 4–1 before umpires stopped the game at the end of the fourth inning. It resumed Wednesday with the Tigers losing 5–3 despite tallying 12 hits.
Junior Conor Davis, who homered and doubled twice in that game, said, “It’s a tough pill to swallow that we didn’t get where we wanted to go here, but at the same time we made history by being the first team in 22 years to get here, so it’s very exciting for our team.”
Auburn was one of eight teams in Omaha and make no mistake about why. Coach Butch Thompson is the difference in where this program was four years ago and where it is today.
“It’s a testimony to Coach Thompson’s leadership,” said Davis. “He came here and didn’t have a great season his first year, but since then regional, super regional, world series. I think this is just fire for us. We’re going to just keep working hard, and the next step for us is to be successful here [in Omaha].”
With most of the team coming back, the 2020 Tigers should have a great chance to do just that.