In Saturday’s doubleheader against the University of Illinois-Chicago, Auburn’s offense dominated the games. The Tigers combined for 25 runs and 28 hits on the day. Overall, 11 different Tigers had hits during the day.
The Tigers won game one 18-1 and game two 7-3. Auburn leads the series 3-0.
“I think if the offense is rolling everybody is rolling,” said senior Rankin Woley. “Judd [Ward] has been rolling and [Ryan] Bliss and even guys today that got in for their first AB’s ever. Everybody is putting good swings, and we’ve got a lot of depth this year offensively. That’s going to be pretty fun to watch.”
Ward hit for the cycle in game one. He went 4-for-6 with two RBI and four runs. In game two, he was 1-for-4 with a run.
“It was more of a matter of getting it going early on,” Ward said. “I was just trying to see the ball deep and put good swings on it and swing at pitches I could hit. They left some over the plate, and I put good swings on them.”
Ryan Bliss had five RBI on the day, four hits and four runs. Woley went 4-for-4 in game one with two runs and a RBI. In game two he was 2-for-4 with a RBI.
The Tigers got off to a quick start Saturday, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first in game one and four runs in the bottom of the first in game two.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
Big innings were the trend in game one, with a three-run first, four-run fourth, six-run sixth, three-run seventh and two-run eighth.
While the Tigers’ offense kept busy, the Auburn pitching staff held off UIC’s batters throughout the day.
Junior left-handed pitcher Jack Owen got the start in game one Saturday. He pitched three shut out innings to start, needing only 14 pitches to get through the first two.
The first hit for the Flames came in the fourth inning, a solo homer from Alex Dee. That was the only run allowed, and Owen allowed two more hits and three walks. He struck out eight.
“[Owen's] ... first two innings were exceptional today,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “Change up was just spotting, just didn't miss a spot for the first couple of innings. I think it was 14 pitches after two innings. Then, you know, I thought the game came down, in the first game, for [Owen] were the bases are loaded and nobody out and he found a way out of that inning.”
After Owen, Seb Thomas, Jackson Reynolds and Ryan Watson took the mound for the Tigers in game one. Thomas allowed no hits, no runs, one walk and recored a strikeout in his first appearance in a Tiger uniform. Reynolds and Watson combined to allow four hits and no runs. Reynolds walked two and Watson struck out two.
Richard Fitts got the start for the second game of the day. He pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and three walks. He struck out seven.
“Jack did get through five innings, and then Richard [Fitts] did the same thing, got us five zeros,” Thompson said. “But I thought he really was fighting himself with the fastball elevated, trying to get it down for moments and spots and got better, I thought, the more he did throw.”
To close out game two, the Tigers brought Blake Burkhalter, Carson Skipper and Drew Baker to the mound. The three combined for two hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Mason Barnett came in to finish the game out in the top of the ninth. He allowed UIC’s three runs on four hits and one walk. He struck out two.
“We’re deep,” Owen said of the pitching staff. “We’ve still got guys we haven’t even used yet. We’ll save some for Tuesday and save some for tomorrow, but right now we’re in a really good spot where we’re at with the bullpen and the starting rotation.”
The Tigers will face the Flames one more time on Sunday, with first pitch set for 11 a.m. CST at Plainsman Park.
“Tomorrow will be can we come out and finish something if you want to be a really good ball club,” Thompson said. “Can Bailey Horn keep up with these other three starters, and do we have enough in that bullpen to finish off, and is the offense still locked in and want to keep trying to pass it down and connect with each other. Have another good day offensively to try and finish the series.”
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman