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RHS alums face super regionals with AU Tigers

By Brannon King / For the FCT

The Auburn University baseball team is headed to NCAA super regional play for the first time since 1999 – and a couple of former Russellville Golden Tigers are part of the AU Tigers’ quest to make it to the 2018 College World Series.

Russellville’s Cody Greenhill and Judd Ward will join their Auburn teammates as coach Butch Thompson’s Tigers travel to Gainesville to take on the defending national champion Florida Gators, with a spot in the field of eight in Omaha on the line.

Auburn (42-21) advanced to the supers by sweeping the Raleigh, N.C., regional held on the campus of North Carolina State University. Cody Greenhill came on in relief of starting pitcher Andrew Mitchell in the final game and got the win on the mound against the Wolfpack.

The 15-7 win by Auburn came after a 13-4 victory over Northeastern in the regional opener for AU and then a 12-1 win over Army Saturday.

The win by Greenhill improved his record on the year to 5-2, with all of his appearances this season coming out of the bullpen. The 6-foot-4, 216-pound freshman right-hander also has five saves and a 2.11 ERA. He has struck out 54 batters in 55.1 innings of work on the mound while holding opposing hitters to a .240 batting average.

Greenhill was joined by teammates Tanner Burns of Decatur, Edouard Julian and Steven Williams on the SEC all-freshman team for 2018. Greenhill led the Auburn squad with a 2.42 ERA in SEC regular season games, and he picked up two saves in conference play.

The talented Auburn pitching staff includes junior Casey Mize from Springville, who was chosen by the Detroit Tigers as the first pick of the 2018 MLB Draft Monday night.

Judd Ward has also been a contributor to Auburn’s successful team during his freshman season. He has appeared in 34 games this year and has started in 19 of them.

Ward has made some highlight-worthy catches with the glove in the outfield and sports a .981 fielding percentage to go along with a .260 batting average. The left-handed-hitting Ward has 20 hits, including two doubles and a triple; eight RBIs; and nine runs scored so far this season.

Ward has also been hit by a pitch twice and has drawn nine walks. He started the regional game against Army and picked up a hit to help the Tigers’ cause.

Six SEC teams – Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State – advanced to make up part of the field of 16 schools that will compete in super regionals, scheduled to take place June 8-11. The format is a best-of-three series, and Auburn will be traveling to Florida to take on the Gators for the second time this season.

The No. 1 national seed Gators took two of three games versus Auburn in April during regular season SEC play. Florida (45-18) advanced to the super regional with a 5-2 comeback win over Florida Atlantic late Monday night. The Owls defeated UF earlier in the evening by a 7-3 score to force the second game of the day between the two schools.