AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) -- Auburn walloped the Florida A&M Rattlers 18-8 Wednesday night at Plainsman Park.
This one felt over after just the first inning. Auburn mashed three, three-run home runs, scoring 11 runs before Florida A&M recorded their first defensive out. Justin Kirby, Cooper McMurray, and Cole Foster all hit bombs over the wall in right.
Tommy Vail got his first collegiate start for the Tigers since 2019, following Tommy John surgery in 2020 while pitching for Notre Dame. Vail made the most of his start, leaving with 4 IPs, 6 Ks, 2 BBs, and no hits.
“It's the same game, every batter, every pitch,” Vail said. “I’m just trying to go out there and win the most pitches I can. Coach (Schoenrock) came up to me in the first inning and said, ‘When you get back out there it's zero to zero.’ You just have to keep that mentality and take every pitch as it comes and not let the moment get too big.”
In the bottom of the third inning, Bryson Ware ripped a single to score Cole Foster from third. Later in the inning, Kason Howell added an RBI of his own, scoring Ike Irish on a sac fly to left center.
The Rattlers finally got on the board in the top of the fifth inning, with a Will Brown home run to left center.
In the bottom of the fifth, Auburn scored three more runs on five walks and two HBPs. The Florida A&M pitching was atrocious all night. Combined, Rattlers pitchers allowed 14 walks.
Florida A&M loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth inning. Auburn RHP, Cameron Keshock, struggled to get outs and did not get much help from the defense behind him. First baseman, Brody Wortham, dropped a routine line drive, then Gavin Miller misplayed a ball at third. Keshock left after not recording an out and allowing four earned runs.
Auburn could not stop the bleeding, as The Rattlers poured it on, scoring seven runs in the inning. The Tigers’ lead narrowed to 16-8.
Auburn second baseman, Brody Moss, flashed the leather in the top of the seventh to prevent the Rattlers from adding another run. He dove for a hard ground up the middle and threw behind the runner at third. The Tigers finished the play by tagging the runner between third and home.
Chris Stanfield, a freshman outfielder, got his first career hit in the bottom of the seventh inning. He roped a ball over the center fielder's head and raced his way to third for a triple.
Auburn won in the bottom of the eighth inning on a Josh Hall RBI scoring Wortham from third. This put the Tigers up 10 after the seventh inning, enacting the new mercy rule and ending the Rattler's game.
“We let all the kids play… They learn something every time they go out,” coach Butch Thompson said postgame. Thompson said that strategy almost came back to bite him in the sixth inning, but the Tigers got out of the jam and pulled out a win.
Coach Thompson praised the leadership his team has gotten from veteran players. “It’s easy to buy into a culture that you know works,” said Justin Kirby.
Auburn takes the field at home this weekend in a three-game set with Lipscomb. The first pitch is Friday at 6 p.m.