We’re now just 15 short days away from Auburn’s first football game of 2019 vs. Oregon in Jerry’s World and yet Auburn head football coach, Gus Malzahn, still hasn’t found the ‘perfect’ starting quarterback. Throughout the offseason, this battle has been one of, if not the most intriguing in the country. This quarterback battle features two high-profile quarterbacks in redshirt-freshman, Joey Gatewood, and true-freshman, Bo Nix, who was a 5-star dual-threat quarterback recruit upon signing with the Tigers and departing from the two-time defending state champion, Pinson Valley High School in December of 2018. Nix has won the last two state titles under his dad, former Auburn Tiger quarterback, Patrick Nix, while leading the Pinson Valley Indians, the first in 2017 vs. Wetumpka at Bryant-Denny Stadium and the second in 2018 vs. Saraland at Nix’s then-future home, Jordan-Hare Stadium. This race has gone back and forth constantly over the offseason, if I was Malzahn, I personally, would use both of them in a platoon, like Nick Saban used Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa in 2018. Who wins it? Will we have an answer soon? The world may never know.
Just after mid-day on Monday, the news broke around the State of Alabama that Andy Burcham, the longtime color analyst for the late Rod Bramblett had been named the new ‘Voice of the Auburn Tigers’. While I’m sure that this move had to be a tough one on Burcham, it just seems fitting. As Rod and Andy had just celebrated 25 years of broadcasting Auburn Baseball games alongside each other a few weeks before Rod and Paula Bramblett’s untimely and sudden death. Andy has been in the broadcasting industry since 1988. The 2019-2020 season will mark Burcham’s 32nd year in the industry. Personally, I don’t think I could’ve taken the job under these circumstances, but somebody has to do it and I know without a doubt, that Rod is smiling down from heaven knowing that his longtime friend and colleague, Andy Burcham, has been selected to assume the role that Bramblett held for so many years. While you will never be able to replace the silky, southern voice of Rod Bramblett, now is the time for Andy Burcham to cement his legacy alongside Bramblett and Jim Fyffe as ‘The Voice of the Auburn Tigers’ and Rod wouldn’t have it any other way. In a sense, Rod is simply passing the headset to his right-hand man, Andy Burcham.
Early on in the 2019 season if you had told me that Josh Donaldson would be putting up the kind of numbers that he has produced since the All-Star break has ended I would’ve probably laughed, honestly. But to my surprise, the Auburn University alum has been nothing short of scorching hot since then and he continued that hot streak on Friday night in a walk-off win for the Braves against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park, when he absolutely scorched the game-winning hit off of Nationals relief pitcher, Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning to left-center field that brought home Ronald Acuña Jr. and raised the Braves record to (59-40). The last 62 games of the 2019 regular season will be extremely critical for Atlanta as 22 percent of their remaining games come against these talented Washington Nationals. What can we expect from Josh Donaldson over the last 62 games of the regular season?
Coming into the Braves’ most recent 10-game home-stand, Josh Donaldson, an Auburn alum, was seeming to have the veteran plate presence that he so often put on display during his time in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over the 10-game home stand, the Braves went 8-2 on the 10-game home stand. This is the first 8-2 home stand since 2012 when they went 8-2 against Philadelphia, Miami and Houston in August of that year. Donaldson, a former American League MVP, played a huge role in Atlanta’s most successful 10-game home stand since 2012. He found multiple ways to get to pitchers over those 10 games. His biggest impact came when he belted a two-run homer against the New York Mets. His homer was a key factor in the win and his bat was key all week long. He’s reassuring Braves fans that he is still the power source that he was in Toronto and he’s doing it in big ways. He isn’t called the “Bringer of Rain” for nothing and he proved that during this lengthy home stand. The Braves have Thursday off and will travel to Washington, D.C. to tangle with the Washington Nationals starting Friday, June 21, 2019. Dallas Keuchel will more than likely make his much-anticipated Braves debut on Friday while Washington will counter with Stephen Strasburg.
Auburn Baseball found itself facing adversity late in the 2019 season, they could’ve thrown in the towel or waved the white flag but they never did. Auburn’s historic run to the 2019 NCAA Baseball College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska began back early 2019 and the team ran into some bumps in the road along the way. Their run began with a 6-5 win over Georgia Tech in the Atlanta Regional, in which they defeated Coastal Carolina once and Georgia Tech twice to win the regional. The first meeting with Georgia Tech in postseason play sparked it all. Steven Williams’ incredible walk-off homer at Russ Chandler Stadium lit a fire under the Tigers. A fire, which they carried with them from that point on. Knocking off North Carolina in the Chapel Hill Super Regional, a best-of-three series that Auburn won 2-1. Sunday night, the Tigers lost an absolute heartbreaker to Mississippi State 5-4 in the first game of their trip to Omaha. On Tuesday, Auburn tangled with the Louisville Cardinals but the game would enter a weather delay and wouldn’t resume until 11:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. When the game resumed, the Tigers found themselves in a bit of a hole, down 4-1 entering the fifth inning. The Cardinals would tack on one more run and the Tigers would answer back with two runs of their own. The last of which came on a ninth inning home run. Louisville would go on to win 5-3. Say what you want, but this team and this season will live forever. Auburn never gave up even when they had the opportunity to do so. They didn’t back down. The unity that this team showed was absolutely incredible. Rod and Paula Bramblett are without a doubt beaming with pride as am I. This season was one to remember. Pictures: Auburn Baseball Twitter.
Auburn’s 2019 season has been filled with thrilling wins and heartbreaking losses and this team and university has had their faith tested. Many times in the past teams have gone to Omaha under unlikely circumstances, but this trip? There’s only one word to describe it…incredible. Honestly, I’ve never seen a team rally around each other like the Auburn Baseball team has done the last few weeks. They’ve faced adversity and have never backed down from a fight. The same was true Monday afternoon as the Tigers used a 13-run first inning and ran through the North Carolina Tar Heel bullpen rapidly, as they used four pitchers before the first inning was over and Auburn sent 17 to the plate in the top-half of the first, an inning that lasted nearly 50 minutes, 49 to be exact. The Tigers continued to grit their teeth at run fearlessly toward Omaha in a 14-7 win over North Carolina Monday afternoon. This is Auburn’s fifth trip to Omaha in program history and first since 1997, when David Ross sent Auburn to Omaha with a win over Florida State in the Super Regional. The 22-year drought is over and there’s a party at Toomer’s Corner.
What’s Next for Auburn?
The Tigers will tangle with the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday, June 16, 2019 at 6:30pm CT on ESPN2.
NCAA Baseball Regionals are behind us. Now, we are faced with Super Regional best-of-three game series’ in multiple locations. Ole Miss will travel up to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks in the Fayetteville Super Regional, beginning June 8th at noon ET. Auburn will travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels at noon ET on June 8th. LSU will remain in Baton Rouge and play host to the Florida State Seminoles beginning June 8th at 3pm ET and Mississippi State will remain in “Stark Vegas” aka, Starkville, Mississippi and host the Stanford Cardinal June 8th at 3pm ET. In Nashville, Tennessee, the Vanderbilt Commodores will battle the Duke Blue Devils beginning June 7th at 5pm ET. As a whole, the Southeastern Conference will send six of the 10 teams that advanced to the postseason NCAA Tournament to Super Regional action. For those of you wondering if that’s some kind of record, you would be right. The Southeastern Conference is the first conference in college baseball history to send six teams to the Super Regionals. One again, the SEC has proven its dominance and displayed its resiliency as it does in seemingly every sport all year long. This conference is without a doubt the best conference in college sports. Say what you will, but the Southeastern Conference always delivers when the stakes reach their highest point. Which SEC teams make the trip to Omaha and will they be facing a conference foe? When it’s time to step up, the Southeastern Conference seemingly always comes out on top. Personally, I like the conference’s chances of two teams reaching Omaha and the championship game. Will an SEC team be on top of the college baseball world?