Andrew Mitchell
Andrew Mitchell gave the Tigers a great outing in Sunday's big win over Vanderbilt. (Photo: Adam Sparks/Inside The Auburn Tigers, Scout.com)

 

Auburn, Ala.--The No. 20 ranked Auburn Tigers got a strong pitching performance from senior Andrew Mitchell and a seven-run fifth inning to blast No. 17 Vanderbilt 14-0 on Sunday and earn the first sweep of the Commodores since 2002 and the first shutout since 1998. With the victory Auburn improves to 34-14 on the season and 13-11 in SEC play while Vanderbilt falls to 25-22, 11-13 in league action.

With LSU's win over Arkansas, Auburn finds itself a game of out first in the SEC West baseball race along with Ole Miss. The Tigers will travel to Oxford to face the Rebels beginning Thursday night.

Needing a strong outing on Sunday, Auburn got just that from the senior Mitchell along with fellow senior reliever Calvin Coker with Davis Daniel finishing it off in the ninth as the Tigers allowed just two hits in the win.

Giving up just an infield single and not issuing a walk in five and 1/3 innings, Mitchell was dominant in picking up his first win of the season as the Tigers finished off the Commodores before walking across the street to get his degree in Management. It was his longest outing of the year and it couldn’t have come out a better time for Auburn. Coker's two and 2/3 innings of hitless relief made it the perfect Sunday for a pitching coach like Butch Thompson.

"It shows you what Andrew Mitchell can be with some fastball command," Thompson said of his starter. "His fastball command was excellent. I made a deal with him before the game. I usually don't talk to our starting pitchers a whole lot. We get to a point in the week we put the hay in the barn and let them roll. He's walking today, too.  This might be one of the neatest days of his life. He asked me if he would be able to pitch and I said 'it depends on how you pitch today,' Thompson joked.

"His fastball command was excellent, outstanding, against an unbelievable Top 25 ball club. He gets to graduate and walk for his mom. That's a pretty good day. That's kind of what it's all about and I'm proud of him. 

"Some mechanical adjustments showed up for Calvin Coker and you could see the ball start disappearing beneath batter's swings again. To see Davis Daniel hang in there and battle and never quit and get back out there for an inning of work throwing 94-95-96 MPH and got a strikeout on a breaking ball, the pitching side was unbelievable. It makes us feel like an even stronger ballclub when you can get something like that on a game three because I thought we played great in all three phases again."

At the plate the Tigers continued their late-season streak by pounding the Commodores at every turn on Sunday. Going 3-4 center fielder Jay Estes drove in one and scored a pair of runs while Venter and Davis both added a pair of hits with Davis driving in career-high five RBI. Davis said it was a day and a series for the Tigers that just continues to show what they're capable of at the plate.

For him it's all about finding his power stroke. Going 4-9 with two home runs and 10 RBI for the weekend, Davis said it was fun to see the ball go over the wall for a change. On Sunday that meant one of the longest home runs of the season for the Tigers as part of the 14-run outburst. 

"It was really good," Davis said. "It felt great. It helps a lot too when our pitching staff had a great day. We played solid defense and all of the bats were rolling today, this weekend too.

"It's big for us especially going into the last two weekends of SEC play," he added of the sweep. "A sweep against Vandy is pretty big, them being as prestigious of a program as they are."

Conor Davis
Conor Davis hit a three-run homer and drove in five runs on Sunday vs. Vanderbilt (Photo: Adam Sparks/Inside The Auburn Tigers, Scout.com)

 

Following a pair of perfect innings from both Mitchell and Vanderbilt starter Mason Hickman, Auburn finally got the offense going in the bottom of the third. Getting things started, Venter doubled off the line in left field before a Conor Davis fly ball moved him to third. He would later score on a Will Holland sac fly to put the Tigers on the board.

Perfect through four innings, Mitchell retired the first two hitters in the fifth before Stephen Scott’s ground ball was grabbed by a diving Luke Jarvis, but the senior couldn’t get the ball out of his glove. The infield single gave the Commodores their first base runner of the night, but that would be it and set the stage for the huge bottom of the fifth for the Tigers.

Swinging at the second pitch he saw in the inning, Venter’s solo shot over the monster in left field made it 2-0 Auburn and opened up the floodgates for the Tigers.

Following back-to-back walks, a Holland ground ball retired Josh Anthony at second and put runners on the corners for Steven Williams. Facing reliever Jackson Gillis, Williams balked home a run before a walk loaded the bases. A Brett Wright single through the left side made it a four-run lead for the Tigers, but they were just getting started.

An Edouard Julien single loaded the bases and with two outs an Estes infield single made it 5-0 Tigers. Following a walk to Venter to give him his second RBI of the inning, Davis smashed a single to left field to finish off the seven-run inning and give Auburn a commanding 8-0 lead.

Still looking for more, the Tigers added to the lead in the seventh. With one out Estes continued his hot streak with a single to center before Venter was hit by a pitch to put two on for Davis. Getting a pitch down in the zone, Davis hit perhaps the longest homer of the season for the Tigers as the ball sailed over the scoreboard. The three-run homer pushed the lead to 11 and put Auburn on cruise control on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Auburn returns to action Tuesday night at 6 p.m. when the Tigers take on South Alabama at Plainsman Park.

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