Auburn Regional celebration

The Auburn baseball team begins its celebration after winning the Regional championship

After storms suspended play Sunday night with Auburn holding a nine-run lead in its Regional match-up against UCLA, the Tigers came back out Monday afternoon and finished what they started, holding off the Bruins and solidifying their spot in the Super Regional with an 11-4 win. 

“I’m super proud of our team. Three out of the last four years the Auburn Tigers can say they are going to a Super Regional. That’s a big deal,” said Auburn coach Butch Thompson. “A great job to our program getting to host this finally. We proved it to ourselves that we can absolutely play well in this setting.”

Junior Mason Barnett started on the hill for the Tigers, striking out a career-high of 10 in five innings while allowing only one hit. Barnett had just thrown pitch 89 when NCAA officials put a halt to play for the night.

“It was definitely one of the most fun games I've ever pitched,” said Barnett. “Just the stage that I was at and the fans.”

The first inning put the Tigers up 2-0 after a Sonny DiChiara single and a Brooks Carlson sacrifice fly to center field. In the fourth, DiChiara hit another RBI, bringing in two more runs, that was followed by a Brody Moore solo home run in the fifth to put the Tigers up 5-0. 

Brooks Carlson got the sixth going with an RBI double that scored DiChiara and advanced Bobby Pierce to third. Catcher Nate LaRue then hit a three-run RBI double, bringing Auburn to a 9-0 lead.

The Bruins came out on Monday ready to make a push at a comeback, but the 9-0 hole they had found themselves in Sunday night was too much after putting up back-to-back two-run innings late in the game. 

“At the end of the day, Auburn was the best team. They deserve to move on,” said UCLA coach John Savage. “We've been in this position quite a bit. And it's difficult to end your season in the regional final. We did that last year at Texas Tech. And we did that again this year. But at the end of the day, it's about growing. It's about development and, ultimately, it's about winning. So very proud of our program and congratulations again to Auburn.”

Senior Carson Skipper was on the mound for the Tigers in the 7th inning when play resumed Monday and allowed only two runs. Junior Blake Burkhalter brought home the win for the Tigers, giving up only two runs and four hits in the last two innings. 

Auburn swept the tournament and had an impressive 51 runs over the course of the three games while allowing only 18 runs. Much of the offensive success is due to the consistent performance by the Tigers' leading hitter for the season, Sonny DiChiara, who finished with a game-high three hits and four RBIs.

DiChiara wasn’t the only Auburn player who made an impact this weekend as nine Tigers were selected to the NCAA Auburn Regional All-Tournament Team — Mason Barnett, Joseph Gonzalez, Nate LaRue, Sonny DiChiara, Cole Foster, Brody Moore, Mike Bello, Kason Howell, Brooks Carlson. Moore was also named MVP of the Regional. 

“This was a special three days, well four days for a program. A ton of players contributed top to bottom of our lineup defensively. I think at the end of the day, our offense was the number one key. Number two was our three starting pitchers,” said Thompson. “It was nice when you're at this stage, and you play your best baseball of the year as far as the series goes or a collection of games in these three games and I thought we did.”

Auburn will play the winner of the Vanderbilt and Oregon State game, and the location of the Super Regional will be based on the results. A Vanderbilt win would put Auburn as the Super Regional host for the first time in program history.

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