The right-handed sophomore's stat line speaks for itself following the standing ovation received at the thrilling conclusion of Tanner Burns’ first complete game as a Tiger. Burns picks up his second win of the season to improve to 2-0 while throwing 15 K’s to tie the all-time record for strikeouts in a game by any Auburn player, joining the ranks of Hudson and Mize. No Bearcat batters were walked in the process, and Burns’ did so while tossing only 104 pitches. The righty pitcher only gave up two hits on his path to history, solidifying this night as the best-pitched game of the season for Auburn.
This is Burns’ second straight weekend as the Game 1 starter, and if Butch Thompson had any doubts about who his Friday guy would be, this game laid those doubts to rest as Burns commanded this game from the first pitch; retiring the first 11 Bearcats in stride without as much as a mound visit. Burns cut right through the order in the first three innings, scoring six of his 15 total strikeouts on the first rotation.
It wasn’t until Joey Wiemer cracked a 1-2 pitch into center field in the bottom of the 4th that the Bearcats recorded a hit, and the rally was quashed in short order as Cole Murphy lined out to Ryan Bliss on the next pitch. Burns’ only other hit surrendered came in the 6th as a hot shot from AJ Bumpass found the gap in left-center field, but Cincinnati’s day on offense ended there as the next 12 batters were felled at the plate to end the game.
While Burns stole the show with his lights out performance on the mound, the rest of the team did their job to complete Auburn’s most complete game of the season to date. Solid hitting, smart baserunning, and zero errors all contributed to a near perfect performance by the team in all phases of play to lock up the first game of the weekend series.
The offensive highlights for Auburn weren’t all that flashy, as some solid small-ball brought in the first two Tiger runs in the bottom of the 4th. Kason Howell scored Rankin Woley from third on a fielder’s choice to the shortstop, and Everett Lau came home off of a squeeze bunt from Matt Scheffler. The biggest hit of the night came off of the bat of Steven Williams as he jacked a two-run blast over the right field wall and the Tigers never looked back.
Other notable events from the night included Edouard Julien advancing from first to third base in the 7th inning on two consecutive wild pitches from Cincinnati reliever Evan Shawver, eventually coming home off of Williams’ home run. Former Auburn starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson found himself in a hostile homecoming as he struck out swinging in all three of his plate appearances, seeing only ten Burns pitches in those three at-bats.
The Tigers and Bearcats are set to square off in a double header Saturday afternoon with the first game coming at 1 p.m. Auburn’s probable starter is Jack Owen, who last took the mound in relief in last Saturday’s game against UCF in Orlando.