Auburn, Ala.--Auburn true freshman starter Cory Luckie gave up two hits in five innings to earn his first college victory and relievers Scott Shuman and Bradley Hendrix held East Tennessee State hitless the rest of the way as the Tigers pounded the Buccaneers 12-1 in front of 3,428 fans at Plainsman Park.
“Cory was outstanding,” Auburn Coach Tommy Slater says. “He really threw all three pitches--fastball, curveball and change-up, well. He located his pitches. We need to play better behind him. We had a couple of errors there at third and the two catcher’s interferences.
"Nothing rattles him.," Slater says. "He’s a straight-A student in high school and has made nothing but A’s since he’s been here at Auburn. He really keeps his composure well. He can really pitch.”
The Prattville native was terrific. Pitching five complete innings, Luckie allowed just two hits and one earned run while throwing 73 pitches. Perhaps the biggest number was zero, as in the number of batters he walked. Luckie says that was his goal coming into the game and he was able to make guys put the ball in play and let his defense do the work.
“I had an awesome time,” Luckie says. “Being a freshman it was pretty nerve-wracking that first pitch. As long as I got that first strike out of the way I was good to go. That first pitch was pretty nerve-wracking.
“It’s pretty fun to not give up freebies,” he adds. “Those freebies are the thing that really come back and haunt you. It’s a pretty high percentage of guys getting walked that score. Whenever you keep the walks out of the way and the hit-by-pitches out of the way then you have a pretty good chance of winning.”
After Auburn’s season opener Slater expressed disappointment in the ability of his offense to score just six runs on 10 hits. On Saturday Slater didn’t have much negative to say about the bats as the Tigers pounded ETSU from start to finish in a convincing victory.
“Early in BP (batting practice) Mo (Coach Bill Mosiello) had a great idea,” Slater says. “Our BP round today was nothing but power ground balls. They had to hit the ball hard on the ground or hit and line drive or they didn’t get to hit any more. That was the focus in BP today and I think it translated over to the game.”
Big freshman Hunter Morris made ETSU pay for walking Mike Bianucci with three hits and thre RBI.
The star of the show offensively was true freshman Hunter Morris. After struggling in Friday’s opener with six left on base, the Huntsville native had three hits and three RBI in the victory. He says it was nice to have a big day so early in his career after struggling to get the job done on Friday.
“I was able to make an adjustment in the cage today and work on it on the field,” Morris says. “Coach Mosiello and Coach Slater really helped me make the adjustment and wait on the ball. I really worked on hitting line drives and balls the other way and it paid off. I was tired of seeing Nuc get walked and me leave him standing on first base.”
Using two walks and an error in the first inning, Auburn scored the game’s first run on a Joseph Sanders sacrifice fly that scored Luke Greinke from third base. Without the benefit of a hit Auburn gave Luckie the early lead. In the second they would break the game open.
Leading off, shortstop Matt Hall singled up the middle and stole second to move into scoring position for catcher Ryan Jenkins. Getting a pitch to drive Jenkins doubled into left field to easily score Hall and make it 2-0 Tigers. True freshman Justin Hargett followed with a single to center field that gave Auburn runners on first and third with still nobody out. Hargett finished with two hits for the second consecutive day and also drove in two runs.
Impressive freshman Brian Fletcher followed with a hot shot past the ETSU third baseman to load the bases for Greinke. A wild pitch put Auburn’s third run on the board and moved the runners up, setting the stage for a sacrifice fly by Greinke that scored Hargett to make it 4-0 Auburn.
Yet another walk to Bianucci brought Hunter Morris to the plate with runners in scoring position and this time he delivered, lining a single into center field to score Fletcher and give Auburn a five-run advantage.
With Luckie cruising on the mound Auburn went back to work in the bottom of the fourth and all but put the game away with a five-run outburst. With one out Fletcher again delivered, this time with a single to left field. Greinke followed and for the second time in the game reached on an error and the shortstop couldn’t get the ball out of his glove on what appeared to be a double play ball.
That proved to be a huge mistake for the Buccaneers as Bianucci, Morris and Sanders had consecutive doubles to score four runs. The biggest blow came from Morris as his double to the gap in right field scored Greinke and Bianucci. The last run of the inning came off the bat of Kevin Patterson as the big freshman singled to right field to score Sanders to make it 10-0 Tigers.
Joseph Sanders makes a throw from third base on Saturday..
ETSU finally got on the board with a single run in the top of the fifth off Luckie, but that would be it for the day. Auburn added two runs in the sixth and from that point forward Shuman and Hendrix made the lead stand up. Shuman was particularly impressive as he allowed just one walk and no hits in three innings.
The same two teams play game three of the four-game series on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Sophomore Taylor Thompson gets the start for the Tigers.
Game Of My Life Auburn
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