ATLANTA – Auburn brought the bats to Atlanta. The Tigers entered the tournament 10th in the SEC in runs scored, but they blasted Coastal Carolina 16-7 in the first game of the Atlanta Regional.
Auburn’s offensive display was well over the team’s season average of 5.7 runs per game.
Auburn started the scoring in the second inning when Judd Ward scored off of a balk from Chanticleer pitcher Anthony Veneziano. Auburn added one more run in the inning with a single from Matt Scheffler.
Despite a quick 2-0 start for Auburn, Coastal Carolina tied the game in the fourth inning. It looked like the Chanticleers had all the momentum, but Auburn struck back in a big way with a four-run frame in the bottom of the inning, including a three-run homer from Stephen Williams. The home run was Williams’ seventh of the season.
“I just wanted to let the ball travel a little bit,” Williams said. “I’ve been out-in-front, off-balanced a lot of times this year. It’s been a rough year so far, but I really just want to simplify a lot of things, see the ball as long as I can and just try to put a good swing on it.”
At his press conference earlier in the week, Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said he hoped his players would see the regional as an opportunity to rebound. Williams has struggled this year with a batting average of .240, but he finished the day 4-5 with five RBIs.
Every inning after its big fourth inning, Auburn added to its 6-2 lead. Coastal Carolina brought the game within four runs in the top of the seventh with a three-run home run from Zach Biermann. Nonetheless, the Tigers added seven more runs to its tally across the seventh and eighth innings to close the game out.
Auburn had 18 hits with every batter finishing with at least one in the victory.
“We knew there were going to be some runs scored today, especially once we got underway,” Thompson said on the Auburn Sports Network. “We scored early. We came out and scored the two runs in the first, which I though was huge in the ballgame. The first two hitters in the lineup get six hits. Everybody in the lineup gets a hit. Steven Williams down there at the bottom gets four hits. Just a great day of offense. Probably our best of the season.”
Jack Owen received the start for Auburn allowing two runs on six hits in 3.2 innings pitched. He made way for Elliott Anderson who got the win on 2.2 innings pitched allowing three earned runs. Ryan Watson pitched the final 2.2 innings for the Tigers. The group struck out Coastal Carolina 13 times combined.
Auburn will play the winner of No. 1 seed Georgia Tech and No. 4 seed Florida A&M on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.