Indiana @ Auburn
- FRI: 8-4 W
- SAT: 6-1 W
- SUN: 11-2 L
The new look Auburn Tigers took care of business on the weekend, keeping a hot Indiana offense down for all but Sunday to take the opening series of the year two games to one. “We really wanted them to get out of town before they started swinging it because of all our preparation and video of seven of those nine returners that we talked about beforehand,” head coach Butch Thompson said Sunday. Through 18 innings, Tiger pitching held the Hoosiers to just 5 runs on 9 hits with 7 walks. Contrast that with Sunday where Indiana had 5 runs after the first 12 batters of the day.
Friday night, the Tigers strung together a nice weave of starter Chase Allsup, Tanner Bauman, John Armstrong and Will Cannon to combine to give up just 4 runs on 5 hits with 4 walks and 12 strikeouts to keep Indiana at bay.
Saturday saw much of the same with even greater effect. Joseph Gonzalez looked every part of the ace, going 5 innings and giving up just 2 hits on the day while striking out a lone Hoosier batter. Following the strike out and a lone fly out, the rest of the Indiana batter were retired via the ground out for Gonzo. Tommy Sheehan and Chase Isbell were able to bridge things to get to Tommy Vail who was flawless in two innings of work. With a strike out to his credit, Vail had Hoosier batters fly out the rest of his innings of work to give the Tigers their second win of the season.
Sunday was a bit of a struggle as mentioned above, except for Zach Crotchfelt who was able to quiet things down, going 3.2 innings of work with four Ks, a walk and 3 hits. The 2 runs credited to him were after he left the game with one out and 2 on.
The weekend at the plate for the Tigers went with the same curve as the pitching staff. Taking charge at the dish for Auburn was the 3rd baseman Bryson Ware who went 7-12 on the weekend with 3 doubles and 2 RBIs. Right behind Ware was freshman sensation Ike Irish, who was just a tick behind Ware, going 6-12 with 3 doubles and 3 RBIs. The power award for the weekend goes to transfer Justin Kirby, who had 2 no doubters and 6 walks to keep his overall average down at .250 (2-8). Don’t feel bad for Justin though, he is slugging at 1.000, so he’s got that going for him.
Next up for the Tigers is a quick trip up to Huntsville to take on North Alabama before jumping on a jet and heading to LA to take on Southern Cal in a big non-conference series. The Trojans opened the season with a sweep of Marist (8-6, 17-4, 12-2) and will host UC-Irvine tomorrow night before hosting the Tigers. Game times this weekend are 8:30 on Friday and Saturday and a 2 pm match up on Sunday. Look to see if the Tigers keep Allsup and Gonzo in their spots but throw Crotchfelt in as the starter on Sunday. As far as the regular line up, I would think the Tigers feel pretty good with their Opening Day lineup, as Ware and Irish are getting on and driving people in and if Kirby continues to tear the cover off the ball, the offense can be dangerous. The real key will be getting bats like Howell, LaRue, Foster and Peirce to come alive and support the hot offense already there. The other key to watch this weekend is the length of the starters and the support behind them. Auburn seems to have found two guys they can trust on the back end with Cannon and Vail, now can they get the bridge guys to get them from starters to the finish line.