Pitching Again The Story As AU Downs Wildcats

Auburn pitchers allowed just eight hits in a 6-3 win over Bethune-Cookman Wednesday night while the Tigers pounded two more home runs to bring the season total to 69.

Auburn, Ala.--For the second consecutive night the Auburn Tigers (22-10) got a solid pitching performance and help from the long ball as they defeated Bethune-Cookman 6-3 Wednesday night at Plainsman Park.

Joseph Sanders and Hunter Morris each hit homers for the Tiger, but the job on the mound was the story of the night.

Paul Burnside got the start and was solid for the Tigers, allowing one run on three hits in four and two/thirds innings, with Scott Shuman, Zach Blatt and finally Austin Hubbard finishing off the Wildcats for the win.

"I keep thinking he's turning the corner and making some progress," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said of Burnside. "Today the first two guys of the game got on. He had first and second with nobody out. He was able to get through that first inning without giving up any runs. I think he's getting better. He's close, he's real close."

Despite giving up a two-run homer in the fifth, Shuman earned the win as he allowed two runs on three hits in two and two/thirds innings. Hubbard got the save, allowing just one hit and striking out four in one and one/third innings. The win was the first for Shuman since March 9 of last year against VMI.

Pawlowski said it was nice to have another solid pitching performance heading into a big series this weekend at home against the Florida Gators.

"I thought we pitched very well yesterday and today," Pawlowski said. "I thought Scott Shuman through the ball well. He threw the ball well at Mississippi State. He's making some progress. Hubbard came in, in a big situation, a strikeout with the bases loaded. I think those guys did a real good job for us."

The Wildcats got on the board first on a nice Wednesday night as Ryan Durrence took Burnside very deep to center field for a solo homer in the second. It was his fourth of the season and put Bethune-Cookman up 1-0, but that lead wouldn't last long as one inning later the Tigers went to work.

Leading off the inning, center fielder Trent Mummey was hit by a pitch to bring Sanders to the plate. Running on a 2-1 pitch, Mummey's sprint to second turned into a job as Sanders hit a laser just to the left of the scoreboard and easily over the wall for a home run. It was the junior's 14th of the year and put Auburn in front 2-1 going to the fourth.

That's how things would remain until the fourth when shortstop Casey McElroy walked and stole second. Playing perfect small ball, second baseman Justin Hargett bunted McElroy over to third base to put him just 90 feet away from scoring for Mummey. He came through with a sharp single to right field for the RBI. Continuing his running ways, Mummey stole second to move into scoring position with Sanders at the plate.

Unable to make contact and striking out, Sanders was hit in the head by a throw from Bethune-Cookman catcher Peter O'Brien. The ball bounced off Sanders' helmet and down the first base line towards the Bethune-Cookman dugout. Alert on the play, Mummey raced from second base all the way home with what appeared to be a run scored, but after a lengthy debate it was ruled a double play because of catcher's interference.

Now leading 3-1 after Shuman came on to get a double play to get the Tigers out of a jam in the top of the fifth, Auburn came back for more in the bottom of the inning. Leading things off, Morris took a pitch deep over the wall in right field for a home run. It was his eighth of the season and put the Tigers up 4-1. Reliever Edgar Serra came on in for the Wildcats and catcher Tony Caldwell greeted him with a triple to left-center. The sophomore later scored on a wild pitch to give his team a four-run lead through five.

Thanks to some solid pitching out of the bullpen by Shuman, that's the way things would stay until the top of the eighth when the Wildcats finally got some life on offense. A leadoff walk to start the inning set the stage for Durrence one out later and he delivered again with a line drive over the monster in left field for a two-run shot. His second of the game cut Auburn's lead down to 5-3, but the inning wasn't done.

A four-pitch walk to pinch hitter Jeremy Davis brought Shuman's day to a close. Reliever Zach Blatt only lasted two hitters as he got a fly ball out before a double to left put runners on second and third. Pawlowski then went to the bullpen for Hubbard. After walking the first batter, Hubbard came back from a 3-0 count to strike out Drew Clark to end the threat with Auburn still up two.

McElroy again manufactured a run for the Tigers in the bottom of the eighth as he singled with one out and moved to second on an errant pick off attempt. Moving to third on a wild pitch, he scored on a Hargett infield single to put Auburn up 6-3 heading to the ninth. Despite a leadoff triple, Hubbard slammed the door by striking out the final three batters to secure the win.

At the plate Morris, McElroy and Hargett all had two hits for the Tigers, part of an 11-hit night overall that included two home runs. That gives Auburn 69 home runs for the season heading into the fifth SEC series.

Auburn returns to action this weekend as the Tigers face Florida in a three-game series at Plainsman Park. Game times for the series are 7 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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