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'We showed resilience' - Auburn baseball wins Regional opener
Keegan Thompson struck out a season-high nine in Auburn's 7-4 NCAA Regional win over UCF.
June 2, 2017

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Recapturing the form that allowed Auburn to win six of its first seven SEC series, the Tigers beat Central Florida 7-4 Friday in the opening game of their NCAA Regional at Dick Howser Stadium.

"I thought we showed resilience," Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. "We got to the pen. We outlasted them. And then Keegan gave us eight great innings."

Keegan Thompson struck out a season-high nine, allowing two runs in eight innings.

"Today was the best I've felt all year," said Keegan Thompson, who improved to 7-4. "We had a week and a half off, rest. I've just got to come out there, throw strikes, go after guys, let the defense work behind me and it worked out today."

Thompson recorded inning-ending strikeouts in the first four innings, then struck out the side in the seventh.

"Pretty special," said catcher Blake Logan. "For him to battle through the heat, the humidity. When you need your ace to throw his best game, he did that tonight."

Auburn, the No. 3 seed and visiting team, never trailed, scoring twice in the top of second, handing UCF's Robby Howell (10-1) his first loss.

Jay Estes, starting in right field for the first time since April 9, hit his team-leading 18th double to score Logan with Auburn's first run. Estes then scored on an error.

Josh Anthony delivered bases-loaded singles in the sixth and seventh innings.

Auburn played error-free defense while notching 13 hits, the last of which was Will Holland's three-run home run in the eighth, giving the Tigers a 7-1 lead.

 

 

The insurance runs proved crucial when UCF rallied for a run in the bottom of the eighth and two in the ninth.

"I didn't think it was gone when I hit it," said Holland, whose most recent homer came in Auburn's SEC opener, a 14-3 win over Florida on March 17. "It's big. That was fun. Anything I can do to help the team is just amazing."

Daniel Robert led Auburn with three hits. Holland, Anthony and Estes each had two.

With temperatures in the mid-80s with humidity to match, the Tigers planned to spend their Friday night in Tallahassee resting and rehydrating at the team hotel.

By remaining in the winner's bracket, Auburn avoids playing in the heat of the day on Saturday. The Tigers will pitch Casey Mize Saturday at 6 p.m. CT against the Florida State-Tennessee Tech winner.

"It's a good feeling because you know you have your two best guys," Logan said. "You win the first one, so you like your chances with the second one. We're just going to try to get some rest and come back and be ready to go tomorrow."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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