AUBURN, Alabama—Seven is the number of the day for baseball’s Auburn Tigers as they prepare to face NCAA Tournament rival Florida State in the winners’ game at 6 p.m. Saturday night on ESPN2.
Auburn enters the game on a seven-game winning streak in regional play after winning both NC State in 2018 and Georgia Tech in 2019. Ironically, the Tigers’ last loss in a regional game came in 2017 when the club of coach Butch Thompson went down. a heartbreaker at Florida State in Tallahassee.
It was the seventh straight loss to the Seminoles in the NCAA Tournament since the 1997 Regional in Tallahassee which featured David Ross’ home run to put Auburn in the winners’ bracket and a dominating performance from Tim Hudson on Sunday to dispatch the TIgers at the College World Series.
It’s been 25 years since Auburn beat Florida State in the playoffs, but Thompson said he’ll focus on the positives for his program and that’s the current winning streak in regional play.
“I feel like I’m going to tell my team that we’ve won seven regional games in a row,” he said. “It will come down to execution. It’s the 12th regional that we face Florida State or something, but that’s just not going to be the deciding factor in a ball game.
“I know that we have won seven regional matches in a row. I always try to build confidence because the game is hard enough when you’re trying to catch a ball and throw a ball at a high level of anything. I will train them and let them know that we have had success and that we are here.
The run begins on the mound in what promises to be a stellar throwing game with second RHP Joseph Gonzalez (6-2, 2.74 ERA) taking on LHP Bryce Hubbart (8-2) for the Seminoles. Making 14 starts this season, Hubbart has a 3.18 ERA with 94 strikeouts and just 18 walks.
Facing a left-handed starter on Friday night and coming off strong with 11 first-inning points in the win over Southeast Louisiana, Thompson said they’ll have to take the same approach in the game against Florida State and that starts with the work they’ve put into it.
“My knee is hurting because I’ve been throwing several batting practice groups the last few days,” left-hander Thompson said of Auburn’s preparation. “We just prepared and we prepared.”
After a resounding victory in its season opener, Auburn will have a much different challenge than Florida State on Saturday. With an opportunity to take control of the regional and also secure a win over the Seminoles in the process, Thompson said his team’s only goal was to continue the next play mentality they’ve used all season.
“We are aware of the uniform we wear and we know the history of our program,” said Thompson. “It will depend on how we start in this ball game and if we can continue to have good sticks, if we can dominate routine play, if we can contribute with timely shots, that will be the biggest factor. “No revenge or anything like that. It will be more execution oriented.
Auburn will face Florida State on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. CT in the winner’s bracket while Southeast Louisiana will meet UCLA on Saturday at noon CT in a playoff game.