Auburn-UCLA baseball set for 2 pm restart

AUBURN, Alabama — Following a two-hour delay before Sunday night’s NCAA Baseball Tournament Auburn Regional game at Plainsman Park, Auburn junior right-handed pitcher Mason Barnett gave the performance of his career in his biggest career start, allowing just one hit in five and one / thirds innings. Unfortunately for him and the Tigers, a second delay ended his start with Auburn leading UCLA 9-0 and just 11 outs from a third super regional appearance in the last five years.

Coach Butch Thompson’s team will have to wait to finish with the game officially suspended just before midnight following heavy rains in the Auburn area. The game will resume at 2 pm CDT with UCLA at the plate and one out. Auburn is expected to go with senior left-handed pitcher Carson Skipper when the game restarts.

Auburn will honor tickets from tonight’s game, but will not scan for those seats again for the 2 pm restart. Also, fans who do not have tickets will be allowed in the stadium to fill in empty seats as available.

Facing true freshman RHP James Hepp, who had thrown just six innings this season, Auburn wasted little time getting the offense going despite the two-hour delay thanks to some help from the Bruins. Leading off, Blake Rambusch was hit by a pitch and when a throw from UCLA first baseman Jake Palmer hit Rambusch in the back following a Cole Foster ground ball, Auburn was in business.

With Sonny DiChiara at the plate, Hepp pitched carefully before the Auburn first baseman dropped a single into left field to score the first run. Advancing to third, Foster would score two batters later on a Brooks Carlson sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 Tigers.

Taking the mound against a talented UCLA squad, Barnett ran into trouble right away when leadoff man Cody Schrier doubled on the first pitch he saw. In what would be a sign of things to come, the hard-throwing Cartersville, Georgia product struck out the next three batters to keep the Bruins off the board.

In the second inning, Barnett again ran into trouble when he walked the first two UCLA batters. Once again he would answer the bell, striking out Carson Yates for the first out. Facing Kenny Oyama, Barnett got a fly ball to center that Kason Howell ran down for out number two. In keeping with the theme of the night, Barnett struck out Darius Perry to end the inning.

With UCLA reliever Daniel Colwell settling things down for the Bruins after coming on in the first inning, Auburn finally added to its lead in the top of the fourth to get him out of the game. Walking two of his first three hitters to open the inning, Colwell turned things over to Luke Jewett, who was pitching in his fourth game of the regional. Hitting Foster to load the bases, Jewett was faced with the task of getting DiChiara out. Working the count full once again, DiChiara bounced a single through the middle to score Nate LaRue and Rambusch for the four-run lead.

With Barnett in cruise control, Auburn added to its lead in the fifth with a solo home run by Moore to continue his red hot regional. Now in front 5-0, the Tigers put the hammer down in the sixth to break the game open.

Facing the heart of the Auburn order, Jewett walked DiChiara before hitting Bobby Peirce with a pitch to hand things over to Jake Saum with one out. Going the other way, Carlson hammered a double off the right field wall to score DiChiara for the six run lead.

Following a line drive to short by Moore, Howell walked to load the bases and bring LaRue to the plate. One of Auburn’s most clutch hitters the second half of the season, the Mobile native jumped on the first pitch and laced a double to left-center to empty the bases for a 9-0 lead.

Striking out the first UCLA batter in the bottom of the sixth, Barnett was 1-1 on the second hitter of the inning when the game was halted.

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