Auburn pitching staff dazzles, Tigers cruise to series win

How about that for an opening weekend? Auburn’s four starters won in dominating fashion in their opening series against UIC.

The four starters combined for a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings pitched, with 9 BB and 29 strikeouts.

Something that was almost a surprise was how the Tigers played offensively this weekend. In four games Auburn hit .368 as a team, producing 50 hits throughout the weekend. They hit 17 doubles and drove in 44 runs.

Auburn won the first game on a chilly Friday evening 5-3. Game 1 saw a combo of Tanner Burns pitching five innings and Cody Greenhill finishing the game with 4 innings. The duo combined for 13 strikeouts.

Like we talked about in the Auburn 2020 preview article, Connor Davis got the start at first base with Rankin Woley moving over to third. Ryan Bliss moved back to his natural position at shortstop. Sophomore Brody Moore took Bliss’s spot at second base.

In the first game of the double header on Saturday, Auburn’s bats had an offensive explosion that looked like what we saw against UNC in the Super Regional last year. Junior Judd Ward became the first Auburn player to hit for the cycle since 2005. He finished the game batting 4-6 with 2 RBIs. Bliss also had a nice game, finishing 2-4 with 5 RBIs. Auburn dominated the game from start to finish, winning 18-1. Jack Owen got his first win of the season, pitching five innings with 8 Ks.

Game 2 of the double header saw Richard Fitts get the start on the mound. He went five innings with 7 Ks. Once Fitts’ day was done, Coach Butch Thompson really let his bullpen work. In the last four innings, Auburn played four different pitchers. Sophomores Carson Skipper and Drew Baker as well as freshman Mason Barnett and Blake Burkhalter all got their first action of the season, each pitching an inning. Auburn played well offensively, and they ended up taking the game 7-3.

Game 4 of the weekend was led by another offensive outburst from the Auburn bats. Auburn won the game easily, 14-0.

One interesting note from this weekend was the playing time of junior John Samuel Shenker. That name should sound familiar, as Shenker is currently a tight end for Gus Malzahn and the football team. Coach Thompson said that “I thought his at-bats were really competitive for a first weekend. Kind of incredible, actually.” Shenker finished the weekend going 3-7 with a double, a pair of singles, a walk, and he got hit by two pitches. For someone who has not played in two full years I would say that’s a pretty successful weekend.

If you are looking to catch the Tiger the next time they play, they’ll be at Plainsman Park on Friday playing the first game of their weekend series against UCF. The game starts at 3 PM.

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