#10 Auburn @ South Carolina
- Friday: 4 – 2 W
- Saturday: 4 – 0 L
- Sunday: 7 – 5 W
In case you were wondering, we all did it for Chuma yesterday…
Was it the prettiest series win of the year? No. Was it a clinic in how to wear a team down in the box or on the mound? No. Was it a road series win that we will forget how it was done and just know that Auburn went 3-3 in the first 6 conference road games at Mississippi State and South Carolina. Yup! Auburn was able to piece together some timely hitting with another solid start from Tanner Burns to hold on to a 4-2 victory on Friday night.
Saturday saw perhaps the worst outing Auburn has had this season. Reid Morgan for South Carolina kept the Tiger bats quiet and Carolina was able to get 4 runs across for a 4-0 victory. Brooks Fuller was the bright spot for Auburn, but we will get to that a little later. On Sunday, the bats came alive for a big 6 run second inning while Richard Fitts was able to shut down Carolina and Auburn held on for the 7-5 road series win.
Auburn had to have this series win. Carolina is hurting right now with injuries and Auburn was able to get this one while missing 2 of their top 3 starters as well. Think about this, Auburn is now 6-3 in the conference and has won 3 of the 6 games without a guy named Tanner Burns starting against Tennessee, Miss State and South Carolina. If you give that to me at the beginning of the season, I am making that deal as quickly as possible. As time keeps moving along, Owen with come back followed by Davis Daniel. As the calendar flips to April, this is about as good a start as Auburn could have hoped for. Now comes the meat, and it starts this weekend against Arkansas.
Pitching Performance of the Weekend
This one is too close to call so I’m going to have to split it between two freshman arms. Brooks Fuller got the call on Saturday to start game 2 and was about as good as you could have asked. Fuller went 5 innings of 3 hit ball, giving up 2 runs with 4 walks, matched up with 4 Ks. Brooks did a good job of getting out of trouble as well, stranding 4 Gamecocks on the base pads in his outing. He only made one true mistake that was a good pitch, it just happened to be right in the wheelhouse of Ian Jenkins for a solo Home Run. Fuller did a solid job of giving the Auburn offense a chance to get itself started which, sadly, never happened on Saturday.
The other half of this spot light goes to Richard Fitts on Sunday. After Carson Skipper had a rough start in the second, leaving the bases loaded with no one out, Fitts came on and was able to come on and limit the damage to 2 runs, making the score 6-3 and then holding that lead until he left in the 7th inning. On the day, Fitts went 5 innings of shutout baseball, giving up 3 hits with 2 walks and 2 Ks. It was another solid outing for Fitts who looked fantastic against Alabama in 3.2 innings, only giving up 3 hits as well there. Coach Thompson has been saying that he wants to see some young guys step up and take the ‘brass ring’ while Davis and Jack are working through their injuries. I think he has found 2 guys willing to step up!
Batting Performance of the Weekend
It’ rare when you get a freshman that recruits you but that’s what happened to this week’s hitter of the week. Kason Howell, who’s family lived in Auburn when he was younger, wanted to go to Auburn and play ball. After putting in calls to Coach Thompson and his staff, Howell was able to commit to the Tigers and what a good deal for Auburn. Howell has been solid in the field and now it’s starting to show up at the plate. Howell went 6-for-13 with a double, 2 RBIs and a run scored on the weekend. Howell, along with fellow freshman Ryan Bliss, has been massive so far this season for the Tigers and will be the foundation that the 2020 and 21 teams will be built upon.
There is no rest for the tested this week as Auburn finally returns to Plainsman Park to host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for a midweek contest before welcoming in the Arkansas Razorbacks to Auburn. So far, Tech is having a solid season, going 19-9 (7-5 in the ACC) and coming off a week where they took the series from Notre Dame and a mid-week win over Georgia. Since we don’t really know about the Tech starter, we will focus at the plate as there are 2 main names to know. Michael Guldberg paces the Tech offense with a blistering .466 average while Kyle McCann is the power hitter, leading the team with 12 bombs on the year. Look for Auburn to give the start to Garrett Wade again and I personally will be expecting a stronger start from him after a good week of rest after the start against Alabama.