Davis Daniel’s career outing leads No. 10 Auburn baseball to series win vs. Tennessee

Davis Daniel’s career outing leads No. 10 Auburn baseball to series win vs. Tennessee

Auburn didn’t have to worry about exhausting its bullpen in the series finale against Tennessee. Davis Daniel did the heavy lifting for the Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

The freshman right-hander put together the best performance of his fledgling career as No. 10 Auburn defeated Tennessee, 8-1, to clinch the weekend series. The win marked Auburn’s eighth series win in nine weekends.

Daniel (3-2, 4.00 ERA) was dominant against the Vols, tossing a career-high eight innings of shutout ball while allowing just three hits and striking out five. He also walked three and hit one batter on the afternoon.

“That’s as good as any start we’ve had this year,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “He’s been money for us a couple of Sundays, or a couple of Game 3s, I guess. Davis Daniel was special today.”

It was the first time in 10 career starts that Daniel pitched beyond the sixth inning, and he did it with ease against Tennessee (18-15, 4-11 SEC).

Daniel labored early on, requiring 45 pitches to get through the first two innings — allowing four base-runners along the way — before settling in and cruising through his final six innings of work. The freshman out of Montgomery required just 53 pitches over the next six innings of work for Auburn (27-11, 10-5 SEC), allowing just four base-runners the rest of the day.

“He just settled in and I think it was three up, three down every inning for the next four innings,” outfielder Bo Decker said. “It was crazy. It was unbelievable to see a guy do that. His stuff is really good, and he’s going to be really good in the future. It was good to see him come out here and do that.”

It was an outing that Thompson wanted to see from Daniel, especially after the Tigers’ bullpen struggled on back-to-back games to open the series, including a blown three-run lead in Friday’s extra-innings loss.

“The main goal was just to throw a lot of strikes and keep us in the game,” Daniel said.

There wasn’t going to be a blown lead this time around. With Daniel dealing on the mound, Auburn found some sustained offense against Tennessee, exploding for eight runs — its most in an SEC game since the Tigers scored 14 in their conference opener against Florida last month.

“We just linked up with some really good at-bats,” Thompson said. “Once you get that lead on Sunday, you know, we used our arms on Friday and they used their arms yesterday, and we kind of outlasted them, I guess. We played a well-rounded game.”

Auburn scored two runs each in the fourth and fifth innings, with the game’s first run scoring on an error, Daniel Robert and Conor Davis each recording an RBI single, and Decker hitting his first career home run to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.

The Tigers made it 7-0 in the seventh when Dylan Ingram launched a three-run home run over the wall in left field. It was Ingram’s first hit of the weekend and just his second hit in his last 17 at-bats, with the other being the grand slam he hit on Tuesday at Samford.

Jonah Todd made it 8-0 in the eighth when he singled through the right side to score Luke Jarvis from third. It was Todd’s fourth hit of the afternoon as he finished 4-for-5 at the plate.

“He just seemed like a catalyst for us,” Thompson said.

Auburn’s big for its eighth shutout of the season ended in the ninth, when reliever Ryan Watson allowed a leadoff home run to Jordan Rodgers. That was the only run the Vols got, however, as Watson retired three of the next four to end the game and clinch the series for the Tigers.

“All you got is today and these moments,” Thompson said. “I just thought our team was loose and confident at the beginning because we’ve been through this so much…. Just all the way around one of our better-played games — especially, maybe our best played game on the road as a complete team effort.” 

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Published at Sat, 15 Apr 2017 21:10:00 +0000