AUBURN, Ala. (EETV)– Junior right-hander Casey Mize matched a program record with 15 strikeouts in a complete-game effort and led No. 20 Auburn to a 4-1 win against No. 17 Vanderbilt Friday night at Plainsman Park.
Mize (9-2, 2.25) earned the win in his third complete game of the season and fifth of his career. He allowed just one run on four hits with no walks and 15 strikeouts and joined former Auburn greats Tim Hudson, Chris Bootcheck, Mark Chapman and John Powell in Auburn single-game history.
“Our guys are through with exams, we had Casey Mize on the mound, (Plainsman Park) was packed tonight, and it was just a beautiful day in Auburn, Alabama,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “The game the guys played was so clean. We got two big home runs from Brett Wright and Conor Davis, who has worked so hard. Casey had 15 strikeouts and no walks. It was just a special night.”
The outing, which was just the second 15-strikeout effort in a Southeastern Conference game in program history, also marked Mize’s fifth game of the season with double digit strikeouts and his 10th since the beginning of last season. Mize moved to fourth on Auburn’s all-time strikeout list with 287 career strikeouts.
“The goal is always to strike somebody out,” Mize said. “That’s just kind of what I try to do. Tonight, I was just able to get a lot of them. Brett Wright did a really good job calling the game behind the plate. We’ve been clicking great lately, so he had a lot to do with tonight.”
Auburn (32-14, 11-11 SEC) got off to an early lead behind Brett Wright’s solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. The home run was Wright’s ninth of the season, marking the most home runs by an Auburn catcher since Tony Caldwell also hit nine home runs in 2009.
Mize, who had struck out 11 in his first 5.0 innings of work, and Vanderbilt’s Drake Fellows (4-4, 3.82) kept the bats quiet, but the Tigers broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Following singles from Jay Estes and Brendan Venter, Davis gave the Tigers the breathing room they needed with a three-run home run to center field, which extended the lead to 4-0 and proved to be the difference in the game.
Vanderbilt (25-20, 11-11 SEC) drew back within three with a leadoff home run from Philip Clarke in the top of the seventh, but that was the only blemish on a fantastic day from Mize as he finished the inning by taking care of the following three batters in order.
Mize trotted back out to the mound to start the ninth and, despite Austin Martin’s leadoff single to center to open the frame, closed out the game with a 3-6-1 double play and his record-tying, final strikeout.
With Mize dealing on the mound, Auburn was able to put good swings on balls for the majority of the night. Jay Estes led the way with a pair of hits while Conor Davis drove in three runs on his fifth inning homer.
The two teams continue the three-game series Saturday at 2 p.m. CT on SEC Network+. Auburn will send freshman Tanner Burns (3-4, 2.62) to the mound opposite Vanderbilt right-hander Patrick Raby (3-4, 2.41).