Auburn, Ala.--Auburn came into the weekend series against VMI looking for quality starting pitching and Saturday the Tigers got the performance of the year to this point as true freshman Cory Luckie threw a complete game on just 101 pitches as Auburn pounded the Keydets 10-1 at Plainsman Park.
The victory, AU's fifth straight win, improves Auburn to 9-4 on the season while VMI falls to 4-6.
"He was phenomenal," Coach Tommy Slater said of Luckie. "It's fun to watch the guy pitch. He had all three pitches going and obviously a complete game effort on just 101 pitches is just a phenomenal performance by Cory."
Dominant from beginning to end in the win, Luckie allowed eight hits and one earned run and didn't walk a batter in his second win of the year. The most pitches he threw in any inning was 14 in both the fifth and eighth innings.
"It's really hard to perform on a cold day like this," Luckie said. "You really have to get focused before the game starts. I went out a little early today and got my body loose. That's the big thing on a day like this when it's so cold and windy. You've got to be really focused.
"Every day is a new day," he added. "I have learned now that you're going to be nervous before that first pitch every time. As long as you get that first strike over you're fine. It was just a regular day. It was a new day. You have to go out there and perform."
In addition to Luckie's superb outing, the Auburn offense also did a good job against a quality pitcher in Michael Bowman. Getting a lot of pitches early and capitalizing on several chances to score runs, the Tigers chased him after just three innings and had six earned runs on seven hits in that time.
For the game Auburn was led by Mike Bianucci's three hits while David Cunningham, Kevin Patterson and Matt Hall all added two hits in the Tigers' 12-hit attack. Freshman Trent Mummey added his first home run of the season on a day when Slater said the offense did a number on VMI.
"Offensively, I thought we set the tone right from the first at-bat," Slater said. "Trent Mummey had at eight pitch at-bat. He hit a bolt to center field for a flyout, but he set the tone. We knew the scouting report coming in was to get Bowman and make him throw his slider for a strike. He was struggling to do that.
"We put 33 pitches in him in the first inning and by the third he was in the 70's," Slater said. "I thought our kids up and down the lineup built at-bats against him and raised his pitch count. When you do that you score multiple runs in innings like we did."
Freshman Trent Mummey dives back into first base. He finished the game with a solo home run, two runs scored and also stole his fifth base of the season.
Auburn got to Bowman right away following Mummey's battle to lead off the game as Justin Hargett walked and stole second to put the Tigers in business. Following a Bianucci strikeout, Hunter Morris walked to bring Sanders to the plate with a chance to do some early damage. He did just that as he doubled to deep left field to drive home both runners and give Auburn the early lead.
Patterson followed with a single to score Sanders and make it 3-0 Tigers after just one inning of play.
Auburn added to its lead in the second inning with some timely hitting and help from VMI. With one out Hall singled to center field, but was erased on a Trent Mummey fielder's choice. With Mummey now on first with two outs the speedster stole second to move into scoring position for Cunningham. The freshman came through with a single to right to score Mummey for the four-run advantage.
A Bianucci double to deep center field scored Cunningham, and the final run came on a Morris pop up that was dropped on the infield. Now leading 6-0 after two innings, Auburn turned to Luckie and he took it home from there despite giving up a single run in the third.
With one out Graham Sullivan hit a fly ball into the gap in right center field that Mummey raced over and looked to be in position to grab, but the combination of sun and wind caused him to completely miss the ball. Sullivan raced around to third and scored on a Sam Roberts ground ball. It would be all of the offense for the Keydets on this day as Luckie was dominant in the win.
The Tigers added to the lead in the bottom of the fourth with two more runs. Patterson got it started with a double off the wall in left field. Up next Ben Jones was hit by a pitch and both runners moved up on a Ryan Jenkins sacrifice bunt. That was important as Hall's sacrifice fly pushed across Patterson to make it 7-1 and an error by the VMI shortstop on a ground ball by Mummey allowed Jones to score with two outs, pushing the Auburn lead to seven after three innings.
Single runs in the fourth and fifth provided plenty of cushion for Luckie. First a Jones single scored Morris from second after the big freshman reached on a third strike wild pitch in the third. Mummey finished off the scoring for the Tigers with a solo home run in the fourth, his first of the season.
Auburn will send sophomore Scott Shuman (1-0, 1.80 ERA) to the hill on Sunday looking for the sweep against Chris Henderson (2-0, 1.32) for the Keydets. The game time is set for 2 p.m. (don't forget to set your clocks forward one hour early Sunday morning for daylight savings time).