AUBURN, Ala. – Junior right-hander Casey Mize turned in the first no-hitter since 2002 as No. 15 Auburn defeated Northeastern, 6-0, in the series opener at Plainsman Park Friday night.
The no-hitter was Auburn’s first since nine pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against UAB on Mar. 19, 2002 and the first complete-game no-hitter since Eric Brandon did so against Murray State 17 days earlier. It was the Tigers’ ninth no-hitter in program history.
“It was pretty awesome,” Mize said. “I’m still kind of in shock. I realized pretty early on that I had [a no-hitter] going, but I didn’t know I’d actually do it. I’m happy with how everyone played tonight. My defensive did a really good job. Luke Jarvis made some great plays in the four hole. Conor Davis catching that ball in the third inning was a great play. With no-hitters, there always seems to be that great play, and Conor’s was a really good one. With Brett Wright behind the plate, we’re connecting really well and I’m thankful for him. He was a wall back there for me, and we have complete trust in each other.”
Auburn improved to 14-0 with the win, marking the second-best start in program history. The win was also the Tigers’ 12th straight at home, matching a new Plainsman Park record previously recorded in 2001.
Mize (4-0, 2.13) struck out a career-high 13 batters and faced one over the minimum with the lone Huskie reaching on a fielding miscue in the top of the fourth inning. Mize’s strikeout total was the highest by an Auburn pitcher since Luke Jacobs also struck out 13 against Alabama State on Feb. 28, 2012.
“In 27 years, that’s about as good as I’ve seen on the mound,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “I’ve seen some good ones. Just being in this league for 17 years, you’re going to get to coach some really good ballplayers and pitchers especially. But start to finish, Casey Mize, that’s probably about as good as I’ve seen.”
The Springville, Ala., native came out of the gates dealing as he struck out the side in his first inning of work and retired the first 10 batters he faced – six via the strikeout.
It didn’t take long for Mize to get run support as Luke Jarvis extended his career-high hitting streak to 10 games and Brendan Venter hit the first pitch he saw from Northeastern starter Brian Christian (1-3, 9.00) over the wall in left field for his third home run of the season. Later in the inning, Josh Anthony made it a 3-0 ballgame with a double into the gap in right-center that skipped under the glove of Charlie McConnell and allowed Davis to score from first.
Northeastern nine-hole hitter Mason Koppens put a charge into a ball in the top of the third inning, but Davis got a good jump on it and made the aforementioned running catch to end the frame and preserve the early no-hit bit.
Auburn’s bats stayed hot in the fourth as Wright, Jay Estes and Julien Edouard started the inning with three straight doubles to drive in two more runs and extend the lead to five. An inning later, Venter led off the frame with a single and later came in to score on a RBI groundout from Anthony to give the Tigers’ the final six-run cushion.
Mize trotted out to start the ninth with 88 pitches on the night. Set to face Northeastern’s eight, nine and one hitters, Mize induced a trio of groundouts to secure the no-hitter and send his teammates in a sprint from the dugout to meet him in front of the mound.
Offensively, Venter led the way and matched a team season-high with four hits on the night, including the two-run home run. Venter, who is now hitting .510 on the season, has turned in multiple hits in nine of his last 11 games. Davis and Julien also turned in a pair of hits.
Auburn and Northeastern are right back on the diamond for game two tomorrow at 1 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Davis Daniel (2-0, 5.68) will toe the rubber opposite the Huskies’ Tyler Brown (1-0, 5.02).