In a three-game weekend series which featured 12 Auburn pitchers combine to only give up one run, none may have been as impressive as true freshman starter Tanner Burns was on Sunday.
While making his college baseball debut, Burns struck out the first four batters he faced on his way to five scoreless innings in Auburn’s 3-0 win over Longwood. Baseball America ranked Burns No. 1 on its annual top 50 freshman list earlier in the week.
“It’s one of the best debuts I’ve seen,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “I thought it was his competitive spirit. I thought he attacked from the first pitch.”
Burns breezed through the first four innings with six strikeouts, but his most impressive work came in the fifth when he was able to get out of a jam unharmed after loading the bases loaded with no outs.
“That gave me a lot of confidence,” Burns said. “Just trusting our defense. Our defense played really good this whole weekend.”
Sophomore Elliot Anderson and senior Calvin Coker took the mound as well on Sunday, each tossing two scoreless innings of their own.
Coker followed his impressive outing on Friday night with a perfect eighth and ninth inning and was the only Tiger pitcher to appear twice in the opening series.
“I’m really interested as a coach to see if he (Coker) can keep the same spin and finish to his pitches throwing twice in a weekend,” Thompson said. “I thought he answered that.”
The Tigers’ bats were tame compared to the 25 runs they were able to produce on Saturday, but shortstop Will Holland and left fielder Connor Davis led the way with two hits each, including a two-run single by Davis in the third inning.
Auburn outscored Longwood 34-1 over three days in its opening series sweep of the Lancers.
“All in all a really good weekend, but I still think there’s so much we can learn about our ballclub,” Thompson said. “There’s so much growth potential and so much needed growth, but we got this 2018 journey on the way and got off to a good start.”
The Tigers will take the field again on Tuesday against Georgia State at 4 p.m. CT at Plainsman Park.