No. 21 Auburn Blitzes Alabama in Series Opener
Julien homers, singles, knocks in three, walks three times
By George Nunnelley
Auburn Athletics Communications
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Will Holland’s double on the game’s first pitch set the tone for an offensive explosion in Auburn’s 19-5 rout of Alabama Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The 19 runs are the most Auburn (27-12, 7-9 SEC) has scored against Alabama (22-18, 5-11 SEC) since 1991, when the Tigers won 19-11. The 14-run margin of victory matches Auburn’s largest against its in-state rival in a series that began in 1896.
“I thought our team was ready to play, evident by the first inning,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “In three or four pitches, you get a double, and then you get him over, and then you get him in, and guys just having unselfish team at-bats.”
Home runs by Steven Williams, Edouard Julien and Brendan Venter – the latter a grand slam – highlighted an 18-hit assault.
“You want to be ready from the first pitch, from when they say, ‘Play ball,’” Venter said. “We were ready to go tonight. Like I said last weekend, we’re ready to get this thing rolling. It’s good stuff for us tonight.”
The offensive output, Auburn’s most runs in an SEC game since 2010, helped Casey Mize (8-1, 2.25) pick up the win. Mize overcame a line drive off his right forearm in the third inning to strike out eight in 5.0 innings of work.
“I’m glad to see that offensive explosion come back,” Mize said. “They really picked me up when I didn’t have my best stuff. Putting up those runs, getting us this win, all credit goes to them. I just tried to grind it out and knock out some innings. The offense came through and we got the win.”
The Tigers responded to Thompson’s challenge to play as well on the road as Auburn has at home. The Tigers are 22-5 at Plainsman Park this season. Friday’s victory improved Auburn’s road record to 4-7.
“Baseball is about getting on runs, and connecting as a group,” Thompson said. “I’d love to stay locked in here. We’ll start all square tomorrow, and it’ll be another great ballgame. Hopefully we can just keep playing good sound baseball.”
Trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Brett Wright gave Auburn a 4-3 lead with a two-run single. Julien followed with a three-run home run and the assault continued as the Tigers scored a combined 16 runs in the fifth through seventh innings. Julien provided the big blow with the three-run home run in the five-run fifth, Venter followed with a grand slam in the six-run sixth and Williams finished things off with a two-run single in a five-run seventh.
Williams, Wright, Julien and Venter combined to go 9-for-16 from the plate with nine runs scored and 15 RBI. Each member of Auburn’s starting lineup recorded a hit with eight turning in multi-hit efforts.
Following Mize on the mound, Welby Malczewski and Corey Herndon combined to pitch the final 4.0 innings in the blow-out win.