Auburn, Ala.--Scott Shuman’s first career start at Auburn was a rousing success on Tuesday night for the Tigers as the sophomore gave up two runs on five hits in six innings while striking out seven to earn the win in a 10-2 victory over Davidson on a cold night in front of 1,988 at Plainsman Park.
Freshman Cory Luckie earned the save, pitching the final three innings that acted as his bullpen session, and the Tigers added solo home runs by Luke Greinke and Kevin Patterson to improve to 5-4 overall. The loss drops Davidson to 3-6. Coach Tommy Slater says they were hoping for a solid performance from Shuman and his outing was just what the team needed with a brutal stretch of games coming as part of an eight-game home stand.
“I thought Scott really threw the ball well,” Slater says. “It was good to see coming off a really fine relief performance against Florida State on Friday. His slider was better, which was good to see. He threw strikes. He commanded the zone with his fastball and his slider had more depth than we’ve seen.”
For Shuman it was just about pitching well, no matter if it was as a starter or reliever. Last season he pitched well as a reliever, but control problems caused him problems later in the year. The sophomore says that he’s just happy to pitch well and get a victory.
“Actually, I just like pitching,” Shuman says. “It’s just good to be on the mound. It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m relieving, closing or starting.”
Offensively freshmen Justin Hargett and David Cunningham as well as junior Ryan Jenkins all had two hits for the Tigers, part of an 11-hit attack against the Wildcats. Mike Bianucci added a double and three RBI while Hunter Morris had his first career triple and added two runs batted in. Slater says even with the production on offense that it was just an okay night for his team at the plate.
Shuman faced trouble right away as the Wildcats threatened in the first. Leading off, Hugh Eden was hit by a Shuman pitch and quickly stole second to move into scoring position. A ground ball moved him to third base with just one out, but Shuman would settle down. Following a walk to shortstop Zach Kayne, back-to-back pop ups kept Davidson scoreless.
Luke Greinke is greeted by Justin Hargett at the plate following his lead off home run. It is Greinke's second of the season and ties his total from last year.
It didn’t take long for Auburn to get on the board as Greinke blasted a solo home run over the wall in left field to lead off the bottom of the first. That gave Auburn the lead and the Tigers would add to it in the third.
With Shuman settling in it was again Greinke that started the offense as he walked to lead off the third. Moving to second on an error by first baseman Jay Honeycutt on an attempted pick off throw, Greinke moved to third on a bunt single by Hargett and later scored on Bianucci fielder’s choice.
Leading 3-0, Auburn kept the Wildcats off the board in the fourth and came back to break the game open with three more runs in the bottom half of the inning. Once again the Tigers led off an inning with a home run, this time off the bat of Patterson. The freshman drilled a long home run off the batter’s eye in center field to make it 4-0.
A walk to Brian Fletcher and a single by Jenkins gave the Tigers two more runners and both would move into scoring position on a double steal following a failed Matt Hall bunt attempt. A Greinke sacrifice fly then scored Fletcher for the five-run lead. Jenkins scored on a scorched Bianucci double to left to give Auburn a commanding 6-0 lead. The double extended Bianucci’s hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.
Davidson got on the board in the top of the fifth with two runs, but that would be it for the Wildcats against Shuman as he completed six innings holding a 6-2 advantage. Looking to put the game away, Auburn put a nail in the coffin of Davidson with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Leading off Hall reached on an infield single and moved to second on a stolen base. Back-to-back walks to Greinke and Hargett followed to load the bases for Bianucci. The junior almost cleared the bases as his long fly ball came up just short in center field. The sacrifice fly did score Hall to make it 7-0.
Morris then ripped a triple to right field just inside the first base bag to score two more runs. The final run of the inning came on a David Cunningham ground ball to short. Leading 10-2 Auburn put it in cruise control the rest of the way for the victory with Luckie throwing just 34 pitches in three innings to earn the save.
Auburn and Davidson play the second of a two-game set Wednesday night at Plainsman Park as Greinke (1-1, 3.38 ERA) faces off against freshman Ian Horkley (0-2, 16.88) for the Wildcats.