OMAHA, Neb. — The sky opened up over Omaha, and Auburn stepped off the field drenched in rain at the College World Series, where an entire season could’ve flashed before the Tigers’ eyes — extended, at least, for another night.
Auburn’s elimination game with Louisville was suspended due to rain before the fifth inning Tuesday at TD Ameritrade Park as the Tigers trailed 4-1.
The game will resume at 11:03 a.m. Wednesday.
Louisville rolled up three runs in the top of the fourth to build its lead as the rain started to fall, sending Auburn closer to the brink of elimination.
Auburn unraveled to lose a heartbreaker to Mississippi State 5-4 in its College World Series opener on Sunday, just after Louisville lost to Vanderbilt 3-1, sending the two losers into Tuesday’s elimination game.
The game started at 1:07 p.m. and was paused at 2:55 p.m.
Louisville broke the teams’ early 1-1 tie by loading the bases in the top of the fourth then walking in a run after Auburn’s pitching change from starter Bailey Horn to reliever Elliott Anderson. Skies were grey but dry early in the afternoon and through the early innings, but a drizzle fell over TD Ameritrade Park just as Louisville seemed to be building its momentum.
With two outs down, a slap off a Louisville bat bounced over a drenched infield later in the inning, and slipped past the glove of Auburn second baseman Ryan Bliss in the most critical moment of the game so far. One run scored as the runner reached on an error. Bliss spun around to find the ball rolling on the soaked dirt, then rushed a throw to home. The ball bounced off catcher Matt Scheffler as another Cardinal slid over the plate. Anderson slipped to the ground trying to back up home. Scheffler scrambled for the ball. The Cardinals stamped their cleats in celebration, splashing the puddles welling up in their dugout.
In the bottom of the inning, Auburn couldn’t answer in the same conditions. Louisville outfielder Drew Campbell made a diving fly-out grab to end the inning — his second big play in the field. In the bottom of the third, he threw out Will Holland at the plate, peeling around third from second and attempting to score on a Steven Williams base hit. Campbell’s throw kept it at 1-1.
Louisville went up 1-0 on Horn in the top of the first with a solo home run off Horn. Horn started for Auburn, leading the Tigers bullpen after five pitchers threw Sunday in Auburn’s losing battle with Mississippi State.
Mississippi State won with a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth, attacking that deep-digging bullpen — and taking advantage of a two-out throwing error by third baseman Edouard Julien that scored the game-tying run.
Tuesday, Julien stepped up to the plate to bat for the first time since, in the bottom of the second, and heard a standing ovation from the Auburn fans in Omaha, applauding and encouraging the sophomore from Quebec City, Canada. Julien had hit a two-run homer and a scoring single to put Auburn 3-0 on three Julien RBI’s earlier in that game. The former designated hitter has played at third all this season, working to shore up his defensive play while he leads the team in RBI’s on offense.
Julien fought through a 10-pitch at-bat on Tuesday, and knocked a single through to center field to get on base to the delight of those Auburn supporters. When Matt Scheffler’s blooper fell in right field, Julien pushed to third.
Kason Howell then sent a roller to second — and on the RBI groundout that tied the game 1-1, it was Julien who charged across home plate for Auburn’s first score since Sunday’s disaster.
He and the rest of his teammates stepped off the field during the delay later, bent on taking advantage of another shot at redemption just like he had, then three runs down and facing elimination at the College World Series.