Tigers Win Baseball Opener 17-0

Auburn, Ala.--Year three of the Tommy Slater Era started in dominating fashion Friday at Plainsman Park as the Auburn Tigers pounded Hofstra 17-0 in a record-setting performance as far as opening day games are concerned.

Behind starting pitcher Bryan Woodall and a strong offense the Tigers set or matched several first game records in Auburn baseball history.

Pitching seven scoreless innings and giving up just three hits on 76 pitches, Woodall's outing was the longest for an opening day starter for the Tigers since Ryan Halla pitched seven innings in a win over VCU in 1996. Slater says that Woodall's performance set the tone for a very good performance for his club.

"Bryan did a great job," Slater says. "He really fills up the strike zone. He was sinking the fastball and our kids know he's going to fill up the strike zone. I thought we played pretty well.

"The second inning double play after giving up a lead off single was big," he notes. "It obviously gives the kids a lot of confidence with a kid on the mound in the strike zone. I thought Bryan really threw the ball well."

While Woodall was a story he wasn't the entire story as several Tigers had big days at the plate. Junior catcher Josh Donaldson got his season off to a roaring start with a three-hit day that included a home run, two doubles and four RBI.

True freshman Ross Smith added four hits on the chilly and damp day as did senior center fielder Bruce Edwards.

Freshmen middle infielders Robert Brooks and Eric Skinner added two hits each as the Tigers pounded out 21 hits against five Hofstra pitchers. Slater says that Donaldson's early home run was big, but he was proud of the entire day at the plate from his team.

"It was a great approach by Donny," Slater says. "The guy was throwing him away and he took the pitch the other way and did a great job of hitting it out to right center. I was just proud of the situational hitting we had throughout the game. We preach to our guys all the time that if you situationally-hit and try to do the right things then your hits will come just by trying to play the game the right way...when you hit for the team your own line will end up looking good."

In the first the Tigers got off to a strong start as a Donaldson long ball put the Tigers on top for good. With one out in the first Luke Greinke singled off the glove of the Hofstra third baseman, bringing Donaldson to the plate. Looking for a pitch to hit up 1-0 in the count Donaldson drove a fastball deep over the right field wall for a two-run shot.

"I just got something I liked and drove it," Donaldson says. "I squared it up and fortunately it was able to go out of the ball park. I just felt like our team approach was good today...Our whole offense was good tonight. We were fortunate enough to get a few dink hits in there and that helped to get the offense going."

Donaldson gets to home plate after his first inning blast.

Bianucci followed with a single up the middle and just like that the offense was rolling. First baseman Andy Bennett was up next and he was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. With Brooks at the plate the runners advanced on a wild pitch to give Brooks a RBI opportunity. The Enterprise native delivered with a ground ball to the right side to put Auburn up 3-0 after the first.

Slater says that the play of Brooks as well as fellow freshmen Ross Smith and Eric Skinner is something that didn't surprise him in the least.

"They are good players," the coach says. "Everybody knows Ross was drafted last year and he was rated in Baseball America's Top 50 freshmen and Brooks is that type of player too. The only reason Brooks hasn't been rated in the top whatever is because he didn't go to showcases. They are both very good young players. Brooks, if he had gone out to showcases we might not have him now so I'm glad he didn't. Eric Skinner played a very solid shortstop for us tonight after redshirting last year."

Auburn added another run in the second as true freshman right fielder Smith led off the inning with a double to center field. A perfect sacrifice bunt by Phillip Stringer moved Smith to third for Edwards and the senior came through with a liner to left field that scored Smith for Auburn's fourth run of the game.

With Woodall still cruising on the mound the Tigers came back for more in the bottom of the third. Leading things off Bianucci ripped a double just inside the left field line for his second hit of the game. Following a ground ball from Bennett that moved Bianucci to third the sophomore would score on a Brooks triple to left field. Skinner drove Brooks home with a fly ball to right field to make it 6-0 Tigers.

The impressive performance by Woodall continued as he mowed down Hofstra in the top of the fourth and Auburn added to its lead in the bottom of the inning. Leading things off Edwards reached on a bunt single and quickly stole second. Following a fly ball out by Greinke, Edwards scored on a single by Donaldson to center field.

Back to back walks by Bianucci and Bennett were wasted though as the Tigers left the bases loaded up 7-0. Two more would cross the plate in the sixth as back to back singles by Brooks and Skinner scored two for a nine-run lead.

Robert Brooks had two hits scored two runs and drove in two runs in his first Auburn game.

If the lead wasn't enough then the bottom of the seventh inning put the game away for good. Sending 12 batters to the plate the Tigers added eight runs to push the lead to 17. A big hit came from Skinner, who added to his RBI total for the day with a two-run single. A pinch hit three-run double by Ryan Stanley and a two-run double by Donaldson were enough for the Tigers to put the finishing touches on a dominating opening day victory.

Brett Butts came on to close the door on the victory by giving up two hits in the final two innings

The Tigers will take on Hofstra in game two of the series Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. Sophomore Justin Bristow will get his first collegiate start as he tries to keep Auburn undefeated all-time against The Pride.

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