Julien grand slam reason for rally as Auburn get by Ole Miss
By George Nunnelley
HOOVER, Ala. – Trailing 2-0 in the seventh inning, No. 21 Auburn outscored No. 4 Ole Miss by eight runs in the final three frames and defeated the Rebels, 9-3, to advance in the winners bracket of the SEC Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
It marks the first time Auburn (39-19, 15-15 SEC) has been 2-0 in the SEC Tournament since 1999 and the first time the Tigers have won two games in Hoover since 2003. The Tigers also improved to 4-1 against Ole Miss (42-15, 18-12 SEC) in the SEC Tournament.
“It was a great opportunity for us to get to play Ole Miss in this tournament,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “They have a great lineup, and I thought our guys did a great job. I thought it was a great bounce back for Tanner (Burns), who only went one and two-thirds innings in his start in Oxford. For him to come back the way he did, I respect that. What I take away is that our team is competing for our coaching staff, for Auburn, and I couldn’t be happier for that. I thought we chipped away at some really good at bats. Edouard (Julien)’s last swing of the bat was great. Great ballgame.”
After lasting only 1 2/3 innings at Ole Miss two weeks ago, freshman right-hander Tanner Burns (6-4, 2.98) responded with arguably hit best outing of the season en route to earning the win. Burns matched a career high with 7.0 innings pitched and allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
“I feel like I had a good fastball command,” Burns said. “That is one thing you have to have. I feel like I had good stuff. I threw some change-ups here and there. I feel like that kept them off balance. My breaking ball was on. Having those three pitches made me very successful in the game.”
Auburn found itself down two runs after Ole Miss took advantage of a fielding miscue and were without a hit heading into the sixth inning. However, Josh Anthony broke up Ole Miss starter Ryan Rolison’s no-hitter with a one-out single in the sixth and advanced into scoring position as Steven Williams drew a walk, but both Tigers were stranded.
An inning later, Edouard Julien and Jay Estes ripped back-to-back singles to chase Rolison from the game and bring right-hander Greer Holston on in relief. Luke Jarvis drew a one-out walk to load the bases with before Conor Davis tied the game with a two-run double over the head of Ryan Olenek in right. With Anthony at the plate, Jarvis broke for home on a passed ball and slid in head first to narrowly beat the tag at the plate and give the Tigers the 3-2 lead.
From there, Estes came back around with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth and squeaked a two-run double just inside the third base bag to increase the lead to 5-2. The double was Estes’ team-best 16th of the season.
Ole Miss scored a run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth and put the tying run aboard in the frame, but Calvin Coker, who entered in relief of Burns prior to the sac fly, buckled down to get two big strikeouts and strand a pair of runners.
Julien, who lifted Auburn to a win in game one with a walk off single in the eleventh inning, came up big for the second straight day as he stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded and hit a two-strike pitch offered from Ole Miss’ Houston Roth over the fence in left field. It was Auburn’s fifth of the season and Julien’s third. It also marked his team-best 15th home run of the season and pushed his SEC-best RBI total to 62.
Coker returned to the mound to start the ninth and kept the Rebels off the scoreboard despite and base hit and an error to record his team-high seventh save of the season.
Offensively, Anthony and Estes each turned in two hits for the second straight day at the SEC Tournament and were joined by Julien, who went 2-for-4 with the aforementioned grand slam and scored a pair of runs.