Can Auburn Baseball Recover to Seal the Deal in Regional Championship Game?
Cole Lipscomb had 10 strikeouts in NCAA Regional against Florida State Sunday. (photo: Wade Rackley/Auburn athletics)
What fight, what tenacity, what courage the Tigers displayed Sunday night in coming back from a 6–2 deficit to take the lead 7–6 in the ninth inning in the Tallahassee Regional. The game was full of drama right to the end as the Tigers saw their dream of a championship, at least for one more day, slip away in extra innings.
The Tigers fought and scratched and chipped away at the lead (with 12 hits) until finally Josh Anthony, facing two outs and two strikes, hit a two-run single in the top of the ninth to take the lead.
Cole Lipscomb, who was one strike away from completing the best performance of his career, gave up the tying run to send the game into extra innings. Dylon Busby hit a 3–2 pitch to center that missed the outstretched glove of a running Jonah Todd by just inches. Had Todd made the haul, the Tigers would have poured out of the dugout to celebrate a championship. Sadly, FSU’s comeback was aided by a bad call on a double play at second base. The field umpire ruled the bag was not touched during the transition throw to first.
Lipscomb was on fire at one point, setting down 15 batters in a row and finishing with 10 strikeouts. “I think that’s the best he’s ever thrown in my short time here, and I couldn’t be more proud for him,” said coach Butch Thompson. “I wanted him on that mound so that will be a coaches’ decision and coaches’ mistake to be second guessed.”
In the 10th inning, Auburn was one strike away from celebrating a championship for the third time when reliever Calvin Coker hit the No. 9 hitter, J.C. Flowers, on an 0–2 count with two outs and the bases loaded to give the Seminoles the win, forcing a deciding game two Monday.
The Tigers came ever so close to doing what many didn’t think they could do. Question is, do they have enough left in the tank to recover from a gut-wrenching loss and come back in less than 24 hours to seal the deal? Coach Thompson said he’s never been more proud of a team in all his years of coaching and told his guys to put this one behind them and focus on game two.
But can Auburn recover from such a heartbreaking loss and, just as importantly, can they do it without their three best pitchers? With Lipscomb, Keegan Thompson, and Casey Mize, Auburn can play with anybody in the nation, without them they tend to struggle. All three have been used to get to this juncture, and it will be an opportunity for someone to rise to the occasion. At this point it looks as if senior Gabe Klobosits or true freshman Ryan Watson will get the chance.
Fans can catch the game on ESPN3. First pitch is at 6:00 p.m. CT.