Julien homers, earns all-tourney honours
Auburn Defeats N.C. State, Advances to First Super Regional Since 1999
By George Nunnelley
RALEIGH, N.C. – Auburn jumped out to a seven-run lead against N.C. State and never looked back as the Tigers ultimately defeated the Wolfpack, 15-7, en route to sweeping the Raleigh Regional and advancing to the Super Regionals for the second time in program history and first time since 1999.
“For three days we played great baseball on the road, and it’s special,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “The whole journey, you keep believing in the vision. You have to as a coach. To stand here and watch these guys celebrate like this, they’ve worked hard. They’re so proud to put that Auburn uniform on. It’s been a special three days, and the journey gets to continue. We knocked a wall down and we claimed a championship for our program.”
After totaling 15 runs on 16 hits in Sunday’s clincher, the Auburn (42-21) offense accounted for 40 runs on 50 hits and outscored its opponents 40-12 in three games during the regional.
Senior first baseman Josh Anthony finished the weekend 9-for-13 with six runs, three doubles, one home run and seven RBI and was named the Raleigh Regional Most Outstanding Player. He matched a career high with four hits in the finale and drove in a career best five runs. Anthony was joined on the all-tournament team by fellow Tigers Casey Mize, Edouard Julien, Brendan Venter, Steven Williams and Jay Estes.
“It’s so surreal. I’m full of emotion right now,” Anthony said. “I’m a senior, so I’ve been playing with nothing to lose and only something to gain. We all talked about it before this postseason that this is a brand new season. Nothing you did in the past matters up to this point. It’s only what you do now. We’re all trying to get to Omaha, and we’re all trying to win.”
Auburn wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard as the Tigers put the leadoff man aboard in the first five innings and cashed in on each occasion. When all was said and done, Auburn got the leadoff batter aboard in eight of nine innings and scored in all two frames.
Freshman reliever Cody Greenhill (5-2, 2.11) earned the win after backing up Andrew Mitchell’s start with 4.1 innings of relief, while Davis Daniel recorded the final four outs in the game.
Will Holland drew a leadoff walk to start the game and Williams followed with a single through the right side. After both batters advanced 90 feet on a sac bunt, Venter drove in Holland on a sac fly to right field.
The Tigers extended the lead an inning later as Estes ripped his team-best 19th double of the season down the left-field line and later came in to score on a sac fly from Conor Davis. Anthony followed with a RBI double to right-center that scored Luke Jarvis from first, and Brett Wright came through with a two-out single to left to score Anthony and make it 4-0.
The offense continued to produce in the top of the third as Julien led off with a single to right and Estes drew a walk. After a sac bunt moved both into scoring position, Anthony came back around and hit a grounder to short that skipped under the glove of Will Wilson and into left field to score a pair.
Auburn scored in its fourth straight inning as Williams drew a leadoff walk to in the top of the fourth and later came in to score on a two-out base knock from Estes to push the lead to 7-0.
Mitchell allowed just one baserunner in his first 3.0 innings of work but issued a leadoff walk that later came around to score on a ground-rule double in the fourth. He was relieved by Greenhill after allowing a one-out single, and both inherited runners came in to score on a RBI triple to cut the lead to 7-3.
However, the Tigers answered in the next trip to the plate. Anthony started the frame with a single through the right side and scored as he was put in motion on a full-count, RBI double from Holland.
The Wolfpack threatened to cut into the five run lead as the home team loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. However, Greenhill went right after First Team All-ACC performer Brett Kinneman and froze the two-hole hitter with a fastball to end the frame.
Auburn added five runs in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach. Williams singled to left to lead off the frame before a pair of Wolfpack fielding miscues allowed two runs to come home. With two out and the bases loaded, Anthony collected his fourth hit of the ballgame and cleared the bases with a double down the right-field to push the lead to double digits. The Columbus, Ga., native’s five RBI tied the program record for most in a NCAA Tournament game.
N.C. State got a few of the runs back on a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth, but Julien put the final touches on the game as he crushed his second home run of the weekend deep into the night in right-center field. The home run was Julien’s 17th of the season and pushed his RBI total to 68, which tied Auburn great and National Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas for the most by a freshman in program history.
All nine of Auburn’s starters reached base during each game of the Raleigh Regional and the Tigers collected 18 extra-base hits over the course of three days.
Raleigh Regional All-Tournament Team
Most Outstanding Player: Josh Anthony (Auburn)
Pitcher: Casey Mize (Auburn)
Pitcher: Brian Brown (N.C. State)
DH: Edouard Julien (Auburn)
Catcher: Patrick Bailey (N.C. State)
1B: Josh Anthony (Auburn)
2B: Josh White (Army)
3B: Brendan Venter (Auburn)
SS: Will Wilson (N.C. State)
OF: Charlie McConnell (Northeastern)
OF: Steven Williams (Auburn)
OF: Jay Estes (Auburn)