Ryan Bliss

Ryan Bliss (9) hits a single in the bottom of the first Auburn Baseball vs Illinois Chicago Game 2 at Auburn University on Friday, February 15th, 2020 Matthew Shannon/Auburn Athletics

 

After beginning their day with a commanding 18-1 victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago, No. 9 Auburn defeated the Flames 7-3 to round out their Saturday double-header.

“One of our big goals for us today was to see how we handled trying to focus for long periods of time,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “I think that we did that well for the most part.

Judd’s been our spark plug, but now he’s just driving the ball and hitting it all over the park, just phenomenal.”

The game started and it appeared to be the same old song and dance for the Tigers — shut the Flames down on defense and the rip of a flurry of early runs, before UIC knows what hit them. Judd Ward started the batting order and he kept his spark alive, using his legs to get a double off a groundball. A bunt from Ryan Bliss was enough to advance Ward to third. From there Steven Williams dropped the ball into the back of left field for a triple and two runs from Bliss and Ward to make it 2-0.

The Tigers weren’t done however when a sacrifice fly sent Williams flying home, 3-0. Tyler Miller completed the first inning scoring after a stolen base and a double from John Shenker. The Tigers went back to the mound up 4-0 after the first frame.

“Everybody’s putting in good,” said Rankin Woley “I think we’ve got a lot of depth this year, it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Both teams faced a scoring drought over the next few frames. Auburn pitcher Richard Fitts dished out six strikeouts to keep the Flames at bay, while the Tigers figured out how to get runners back home. In the fourth inning, the Tigers managed to break through for an additional run from Matt Scheffler on a sacrifice hit by Bliss to put Auburn up 5-0.

The Tigers ended the game by putting up two more runs of their own. The first came in the fifth inning when Miller traveled from first to home off of a triple by Woley. Auburn’s final score came from the legs of Bliss. From third base, he took off quicker than a jet, before the ball had made its second bounce Bliss had both feet firmly planted on home base to put the Tigers up 7-0.

The Flames showed late signs of life as they ripped off two runs in the top of the ninth inning. Cristian Lopez and Ben Tharp scored on a double from Joshua Figueroa. Then Figueroa found his way home on a triple from Matt Bottcher, 7-3. 

The Tigers will take to the field for the final stretch of their series against UIC today at 11 a.m. in Plainsman Park.

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