Extra Nine: The Auburn Series

<i>Junior John Miles has been strong in each of his last two starts.</i>

Junior John Miles has been strong in each of his last two starts.

March 31, 2014

By Brandon Weiss, MUTigers.com correspondent

A successful week for Mizzou baseball, the Tigers headed south to Auburn, Ala., besting the No. 25 Auburn Tigers in the weekend set by taking the first two legs of the three-game series. With the victories in the Thursday (March 27) and Friday (March 28) games, the Tigers sealed their first series win over a ranked opponent since besting Texas, also two games to one, in May of 2012.

1. Late runs steal the series
Entering the weekend, Mizzou carried a 1-5 record in one-run games. The Thursday night contest flipped that script, with the Tigers scoring two runs in the seventh to tie the game and adding the go-ahead, winning run in the eighth as Mizzou claimed the 4-3 win in the opening contest. Friday's contest was similar, with the game tied into the eighth inning. The two Mizzou runs in the eighth inning proved to be the difference in the game as the 4-2 final decided the series for the visitors.

2. Pearson clutch in Thursday win
With Mizzou down by two runs in the seventh inning of the series opener, sophomore Logan Pearson roped a two-out double to tie the game. The clutch double boosted Pearson's season total for RBI to three. The outfielder had been battling injuries for most of the season, starting only eight games to date. His bat back in the lineup gives head coach Tim Jamieson another strong run producer and it showed Thursday.

3. Anderson in the zone
Despite struggling at the plate in the Thursday game, the fifth-year senior was strong at the leadoff spot for the series' final two games. The utility man went 5-for-9 at the dish in the Friday and Saturday contests, scoring twice and driving in two runs. On the season, Anderson is batting an impressive .338 with an OPS of .883. He was the first Tiger to post three doubles in a single game since 2010. Since moving to the leadoff spot, Anderson is hitting .343 and has reached base to open a game in 10 of the 17 contests. He is reaching base at a .529 clip when leading off an inning this season.



4. Miles strong again
Following Miles' impromptu Friday start against Ole Miss, the junior righty pitched into the sixth inning at Auburn. Miles allowed just one earned run, striking out three and scattering only four hits through his five-plus innings of work. Miles has now pitched into the sixth inning in four straight starts, and he pitched into the seventh inning in two out of his three conference nods.

5. Kelly provides a spark
Senior catcher Dylan Kelly started the weekend strong, driving in two runs in the Thursday game. He also scored a run and drove in another in the final two games of the series, respectively. Kelly has been strong all season at the dish, as well as behind it, claiming a team-leading 14 RBI and boasting a .304 average.

6. Steele rebounds
Ole Miss wasn't friendly to junior closer Keaton Steele, as he allowed six earned runs to the Rebels and was tagged with the loss. He responded nicely at Auburn, claiming two saves and slamming the door in both wins. Steele pitched 3.1 innings, keeping Auburn off the basepaths and striking out two batters. In Thursday's win, Auburn put runners on base in every inning until the righty came in and shut down Auburn.

7. The pen takes the wins
With the late runs and close games, the Tiger bullpen claimed both wins of the series. Overall, Tiger relievers went 9.2 innings against Auburn, allowing only two runs to the No. 25 team in the nation. The wins in games one and two went to Austin Tribby and Breckin Williams, respectively, and Steele tallied a save in each game. The wins for Tribby and Williams were the first in their careers.

8. Injury Report
The Tigers did not suffer any injuries on the weekend, and got a boost with the return of Brett Peel, who continues to recover from a broken hamate bone suffered in the opening weekend of play.

9. Who's On Dec
k Mizzou hits I-70 for two midweek games on Tuesday (April 1) and Wednesday (April 2) against Southern Illinois and the Illinois Fighting Illini, respectively. Tuesday's contest will be played at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'fallon, Mo., and Wednesday's will take place at Busch Stadium. The Georgia Bulldogs then come to Columbia for a weekend SEC series. Fans can get tickets to Wednesday's game at Busch Stadium through the Mizzou Ticket Office by calling 1-800-CAT-PAWS.

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