Auburn, AL-Opening day brought forth an offensive explosion, while day two brought the pitchers duel. Preseason All-American Richard Fitts lived up to the hype going 5 innings allowing a hit and a run on a solo shot by Eric Toth to left-center. The Junior right-hander struck out 6 while walking just 2 in today’s game.
#20 Auburn looked like they were going to pick up where they left off last night when Fitts went three up three down in the top of the first and Bryson Ware hit a home run down the left field line over the Monster.
Fitt’s counterpart, Charlie McDaniel, threw a gem himself going 5 innings scattering 4 hits and one run on Ware’s homerun. McDaniel was spectacular, keeping the Tigers off balance as the crafty lefty filled up the strike zone with off speed pitches getting 12 of his 15 outs through the air. Neither starter factored into the decision today as the bullpens were the difference.
The Tigers’ Hayden Mullins was the first out of the pen in the sixth inning where he pitched himself into a jam loading the bases with nobody out. Mullins then pitched himself right out of trouble striking out two of the last three batters in a scoreless inning.
Similarly, Blake Burkhalter, Auburn’s pitcher in the seventh inning, loaded the bases with one out before getting out of it unscathed.
Joseph Gonzalez made his Auburn debut today following Burkalter’s 7th inning Houdini act with a little less slide of hand and more great defense getting a 6-4-3 double play to end the eighth.
Offensively, the sixth inning looked promising when Ware doubled to left off the Monster with one out. He later advanced to third on a Woley groundout and then scored when Presbyterian reliever, Alex Flood, balked. The inning ended before any more damage was done.
The seventh brought more excitement for the Tigers when catcher Nate LaRue led off the inning with a line drive home run that just cleared the Monster in left-center. Junior, Preseason All-American Ryan Bliss ended the inning with a solo shot of his own.
In the Auburn eighth with two outs Kason Howell singled and stole second. John Samuel Shenker followed with an RBI single off the Monster in left, and then advanced to second on the throw home. LaRue added to his good day with an RBI double to left which capped off the scoring for the Tigers.
Carson Skipper closed out the ballgame with a scoreless ninth inning giving the Tigers the series victory.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow afternoon at 1pm CT at Plainsman Park. Auburn will have right-hander, Mason Barnett, while Presbyterian will go with Duncan Howard in his first collegiate start.