After combining for 61 runs in its first five games of the season, No. 8 Auburn’s hitting fizzled out Friday evening.
In Game 1 of a three-game series against UCF, Auburn lost 1-3, marking the Tigers’ first loss of the season and giving them a 5-1 record.
The Tigers had six hits in the game. The lone run came off of a solo home run from Matt Scheffler in the bottom of the second. The other five hits were all singles. Auburn struck out 11 times, walked twice and were hit by a pitch once.
"We got the swing from Scheffler early in the ballgame and scored,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. "Really we didn't have a lot of opportunities to do anything.”
Of the total six hits, three were by Ryan Bliss. He went 3-for-4 on the day. The other three hits came from Scheffler, Judd Ward and Conor Davis.
UCF’s pitching staff kept the Tigers’ offense off its game. Four pitchers took the mound for the Knights and combined for a 1.08 ERA in the game. Colton Gordon got the start and he pitched six innings, striking out seven Tigers and allowing the one run Auburn got on the board.
"They shortened the game on us today and really we were overmatched from the jump," Thompson said. "Gordon, the left-hander, not very complicated but we saw real stuff today for nine innings. He had a fastball to his arm side and slightly up and one that ran away from our right-handed hitters. He had success and didn't have to complicate things too often or too much."
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On the mound for the Tigers to start the game was Tanner Burns, He was lights-out for the first three innings, striking out four batters and allowing one hit. The fourth inning was when the Knights got to the right-hander.
“I think Tanner’s throwing was as good those first three inning as I’ve ever seen him throw,” Thompson said.
Tom Josten, the UCF shortstop, doubled then left fielder Jordan Rathbone singled to get the runner across the plate. A wild pitch moved Rathbone to second and an error got him within 90 feet of home base. Rathbone scored on a single by Nick Romano.
UCF took a 2-1 lead. In the sixth, Rathbone hit a solo homer and that was the end of Burns’ night. He struck out seven while allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits.
Cody Greenhill took the mound after Burns and he pitched 3.2 innings allowing three hits and striking out three.
“I thought Tanner got to a full outing,” Thompson said. “Cody came in and did a nice job to keep us there and give us a chance.”
Game 2 of the series will be played at Plainsman Park on Saturday with first pitch set for 2 p.m. CST. Auburn will try to even out the series 1-1.
"Getting back in this series will be about can we make these adjustments offensively in a quick, quick manner,” Thompson said.
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