Burns matches strikeout record, twirls shutout vs. Cincinnati
SOURCE: AUBURN ATHLETICS
Sophomore right-hander Tanner Burns matched an Auburn record with 15 strikeouts as No. 15 Auburn (7-2) defeated Cincinnati, 5-0, in the series opener at Plainsman Park Friday night.
Burns matched former Auburn pitchers Casey Mize (2018), Chris Bootcheck (1999), Tim Hudson (1997), John Powell (1994) and Mark Chapman (1986) with 15 strikeouts in the contest. He recorded a strikeout in eight of the nine innings worked against the Bearcats, including a pair of strikeouts in six innings.
“(Tanner) gets all the game balls tonight,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “What an outing. Fun to watch, efficient. That was the name of the game. That was my story to the players. Don’t ever stop developing and trying to figure out your game to keep making you better, and that was a good testament to that.”
The preseason All-American wasted no time settling into a groove as he retired the first 11 hitters he faced, including striking out the side in the bottom of the third. He not only matched the program record for strikeouts in a game, but also turned in his first complete game and faced just two batters over the minimum as he didn’t issue a walk.
“Tonight, I had all three pitches,” Burns said. “It felt really (good). Just having confidence in whatever Coach Smith was telling Matt (Scheffler), and I was throwing it for a strike. That gave me a lot of confidence. I knew I had a chance when I got past the fifth inning.
“I build off each outing,” Burns added. “That’s one thing I’ve learned. I have to believe in my stuff. Tonight, I believed in my stuff. I got ahead, worked ahead and finished at-bats.”
Burns struck out seven of the first 11 batters he faced before giving up a two-out single in the top of the fourth. Two innings later, he worked around a leadoff double to hold the Bearcats scoreless.
“It’s electric,” Auburn catcher Matt Scheffler said of Burns’ performance. “It’s a great feeling. Tanner had great command from the first pitch. He was electric all night. He just attacked. He had a plan going into the game and he stuck to it.”
The Tigers backed up Burns in the home half of the fourth to get the scoring started. After three-straight singles, Kason Howell grounded into a fielder’s choice to plate the first run for the Tigers. Matt Scheffler executed a safety squeeze to push the Auburn advantage to two and bring home Everett Lau.
Rankin Woley collected his fourth multi-hit game of the season with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. Auburn added two more insurance runs in the seventh behind Steven Williams second home run of the season. Williams deposited the 3-1 pitch over the wall in right field, marking his second straight game with a home run.
Offensively, Auburn’s three through five hitters collected six of the teams 10 hits and accounted for three RBI. Edouard Julien and Ryan Bliss joined Williams and Woley with a pair of hits in the contest.
Burns trotted out to start the ninth with 88 pitches on the night. Set to face Cincinnati’s nine, one and two hitters, he recorded his final two punchouts and a flyball to finish out the shutout with 104 pitches.
Auburn and Cincinnati will finish the three-game series with a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. CT Saturday.