In the second game in its series against Missouri, Auburn came out on top with a 3-0 victory behind the arm of Richard Fitts on Friday. The Tigers also earned the No. 12 seed in the SEC Tournament with Texas A&M's loss.
Fitts shined in his outing as he tossed a career-best eight shutout innings. Friday's shutout was Auburn's first shutout this season in SEC play and the first shutout since Jack Owen’s complete-game shutout against UTSA in March of 2019.
“Two of [Fitts’] last three starts have been great,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “The LSU start, we got more of a look at that, but we got another level of stuff especially when we needed it.”
Auburn has now won five of its last six SEC games.
“Tonight is all about Richard Fitts outdueling a guy that we knew was probably their best,” Thompson said. “Fitts said, ‘This is my game.’”
Fitts retired the first 14 batters he faced, striking out five of the first 10 and only needed 63 pitches to get through 4.2 hitless innings. In the fifth, he allowed a two-out single. After that, Fitts buckled down to retire the next 10 batters.
Fitts' seven strikeouts on the day matched his season-high in strikeouts.
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“I felt really good,” Fitts said. “My game plan coming in was just to pound the strike zone and make them hit. I thought I did a good job of that, and I know the guys behind me have my back. I thought I executed well and gave my team a chance to win.”
In the ninth inning, Carson Skipper relieved Fitts but allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base on two singles and a walk. Skipper recovered and got a groundout and double play to end the game, earning his second save.
Offensively, Auburn slowed down from its 15-run outing the previous night, scoring just three runs. Tyler Miller won a nine-pitch at-bat with a double to right field and eventually scored on a fielding error. Ryan Bliss followed Bryson Ware’s single with a two-run homer, his 14th of the season, extending the lead to 3-0.
Through the first two games of the series, Bliss has driven in seven runs.
“He had some really good stuff,” Bliss said of Missouri starter Seth Halvorsen. “Later on in the game, after the first couple at-bats, he went to his soft stuff so I sent up there kind of sitting on it. I got one that was kind of hanging and put a good swing on it.”
The regular-season finale will be played on Saturday at 2 p.m. CST as Auburn looks for the series sweep of Missouri.
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