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How Auburn beat Oregon State in Super Regional


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How Auburn beat Oregon State in Super Regional

By Nubyjas Wilborn | nwilborn@al.com
4-5 minutes

Winning a Super Regional nearly 2,500 miles, two time zones away, and traveling over an hour each way against a powerhouse program is a difficult task accomplished by Auburn’s 4-3 Game 3 victory against Oregon State on Monday at Goss Stadium.

Auburn overcame an early exit in the first inning during Game 1 by starter Trace Bright. John Armstrong, Tommy Sheehan, and Carson Skipper combined to give the Tigers 7 1/3 scoreless innings before handing off to Blake Burkhalter, who finished off the 7-5 game one win.

Burkhalter allowed a run in the ninth inning on Saturday against Oregon State. He topped the performance with an eight-out save with five strikeouts. Tigers head coach Butch Thompson saw a scenario with one out in the seventh with runners on and holding a one-run lead.

“I thought that was the ballgame right there,” Thompson said. “We needed a big moment guy to get us through at that moment, and Blake has been great for us all season. He was incredible tonight.”

Defeating Oregon State required three hard-fought contests for Auburn in a hostile environment. Let’s take a look at some defining moments from Monday’s win.

Read More Auburn Baseball: Watch Auburn’s Sonny DiChiara describe Super Regional win

Watch Auburn celebrate College World Series berth

Rewinding: Auburn goes to College World Series with a 4-3 win over Oregon State

1. Auburn lost a tough 4-3 contest on Sunday in Game 2. The Tiger bullpen was already overworked from Saturday’s win. Chase Isbell kept Oregon State off the board for 2 1/3 innings after the Beavers scored their fourth run in the sixth inning. If Isbell doesn’t go two innings, it’s possible the Tigers wouldn’t have Carson Skipper or Burkhalter available for Monday’s elimination game.

2. DiChiara had two of the Tigers’ three hits. His two-run home run in the third gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

“They left one over the plate for me, and I was able to put a good bat on it,” DiChiara said. I wasn’t sure I got all of it. I was excited when I saw that ball keep sailing over the fence. I’m thankful we were able to hold them off.”

DiChiara bounced back from a three strikeout night during Saturday’s 4-3 loss. His at-bat in the sixth might’ve been the most important of the season. He drew a leadoff walk that sparked a two-run inning.

3. Bobby Peirce scored Auburn’s fourth run on a bunt by Brody Moore. Peirce’s slide evaded the tag giving Auburn a 4-1 lead.

Aggressive baserunning is a hallmark of the Tigers and was essential against a tough Oregon State team.

“If we don’t score that fourth run, then we’re not sitting here in the winner’s press conference,” Thompson said. “We needed every inch to beat this team.”

4. Burkhalter came into the game during a challenging situation. Oregon State had scored two runs in the seventh and was looking to take the lead. Burkhalter had five strikeouts while recording the last eight outs. Auburn relied heavily on the bullpen against Oregon State.

Carson Skipper got the Tigers out of a jam with two runners on base and no outs in the fifth inning. Skipper kept the Beavers from scoring.

Skipper relieved starter Mason Barnett. Skipper earned the win and Burkhalter the save to clinch the series.

“When Carson Skipper came in and got those two outs, and when we inserted Burkhalter, those were game-changers,” Thompson said. “We’re able to keep that one-run lead, and Burky got us to the finish line.”

Nubyjas Wilborn covers Auburn for Alabama Media Group.

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In a nutshell, Auburn abc baseballed and outexecuted Oregon State to death. We didn't have to bunch 3 or more hits together to scratch out a run. We had timely hits yes, but just as important, we made timely outs that moved base runners along. There was minimal wildness in terms of wild pitches, passed balls, hit batters, and walks. The walks bit us some, OSU received 12 to Auburn's 10. But hit batters flipped it around. Auburn was hit 4 times, OSU 1. Another major factor. Auburn struck out an eye popping 35 OSU batters! OSU struck out 22 Auburn batters. Game 3 was an incredible 14 to 5 in Auburn's favor. The bullpen was lights out. LaRue and the pitching staff deserve major props for winning that battle and keeping us in every game. The overwhelming advantage in strikeouts was a tremendous equalizer. We put the ball in play WAY more than OSU. It can win games when you're being out hit as OSU did in 2 out of the 3 contests. Magnificent poise and mental toughness on the biggest stage in a hostile, completely foreign environment in every way imaginable. The time difference. The late starts and finishes. The weather. The turf. The hour+ travel distance between the hotel and the stadium. The early start for Game 3. This bunch doesn't have a whole lot of boppers, but they are A+++ in the guts, grinding, and execution departments.

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11 hours ago, Mikey said:

My observations on the final game:

In a lifetime of baseball, I may have seen another complete game where the winning team only had three hits, but I don't recall one. Kudos to AU for accomplishing that.

 

Surely a man of your distinction would recall that on 5/26/59, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a perfect game for 12 innings, then lost it as a 1-hitter in the 13th.  The game was against the Braves in Milwaukee's County Stadium.  The Pirates got 12 hits, but never scored.  Here is a link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Haddix's_near-perfect_game  

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42 minutes ago, OlderWhiskey said:

Surely a man of your distinction would recall that on 5/26/59, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a perfect game for 12 innings, then lost it as a 1-hitter in the 13th.  The game was against the Braves in Milwaukee's County Stadium.  The Pirates got 12 hits, but never scored.  Here is a link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Haddix's_near-perfect_game  

I read so many baseball books as a kid and used to really know baseball history. Every time I read about poor Harvey it made me sick to my stomach- one of the greatest pitching performances ever that wasn’t rewarded 

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You want to know how AU won the game?  Look no further than Burkhalter coming in with 2 on, 1 out in the bottom of the 7th:  got the last 8 outs with 5 Ks on 33 pitches, and ... he faced OSU's heart of the lineup in the 2-3-4 hitters in the bottom of the 9th & flat out smoked them(!)  "Smoke" Monday, indeed.     

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1 hour ago, AUloggerhead said:

You want to know how AU won the game?  Look no further than Burkhalter coming in with 2 on, 1 out in the bottom of the 7th:  got the last 8 outs with 5 Ks on 33 pitches, and ... he faced OSU's heart of the lineup in the 2-3-4 hitters in the bottom of the 9th & flat out smoked them(!)  "Smoke" Monday, indeed.     

Yep.  That was one of the best performances by a reliever that I have ever seen.  Consider what that win meant to AU, Burk’s performance will be one of the all-time greats in AU history.  
 

Being a former pitcher myself, I marveled at what he was doing, ESPECIALLY against those stud OSU hitters.  I could only do that in my dreams. 

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6 hours ago, Mike4AU said:

Yep.  That was one of the best performances by a reliever that I have ever seen.  Consider what that win meant to AU, Burk’s performance will be one of the all-time greats in AU history.  
 

Being a former pitcher myself, I marveled at what he was doing, ESPECIALLY against those stud OSU hitters.  I could only do that in my dreams. 

You got that right.  Check out the stats from ESPN:  Boxscore

8 batters faced & 6 first pitch strikes

33 pitches thrown & 23 strikes:  5 called strikes/ 8 swinging strikes/ 7 foul balls/ 3 in-play strikes

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14 hours ago, OlderWhiskey said:

Surely a man of your distinction would recall that on 5/26/59, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a perfect game for 12 innings, then lost it as a 1-hitter in the 13th.  The game was against the Braves in Milwaukee's County Stadium.  The Pirates got 12 hits, but never scored.  Here is a link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Haddix's_near-perfect_game  

I knew that! :) I've still got a 1955 Haddix baseball card and every time I see it a remember his bad luck. Thanks for fixing my rememberer.

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On 6/14/2022 at 10:58 PM, Mikey said:

My observations on the final game:

In a lifetime of baseball, I may have seen another complete game where the winning team only had three hits, but I don't recall one. Kudos to AU for accomplishing that.

Our hitters took way too many good pitches. I once talked to a friend who was coaching a team of 10 year olds. His main complaint: They take two good pitches and then strike out on a pitch in the dirt or over their heads. We weren't quite that bad, but it was close. We'll need to remedy that by Saturday. Aggressive hitting got us there in the first place. Lets get back to it.

I thought Butch was nuts when he pulled Skipper and put Burkie in with 2 & 2/3 innings left. This once again confirms that the guy working with his players daily knows a helluva lot more than someone sitting outside the fence.

Auburn has now been in two of the last three College World Series. That deserves a big WAR EAGLE in all caps!

Trust me. If my Pittsburgh Pirates can win a MLB game w only 1 hit then I believe anything Auburn could win a game w 3. 

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