No. 15 Auburn opens the season with run-rule win over Eastern Kentucky

Justin Hokansonby:Justin Hokanson02/16/24


Courtesy of Auburn Athletics

AUBURN — Led by a combined eight RBI from sophomores Ike Irish and Chris Stanfield, No. 15 Auburn run ruled Eastern Kentucky 17-6 in seven innings in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,403 Friday night at Plainsman Park.

“You can just feel an environment growing at Plainsman Park,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “I’ll give Bruce (Pearl) and the boys a lot of credit, and football and everybody else who’s done such a great job through these years of celebrating our students and realizing how important they are. To see (the students) being engaged, they have absolutely responded for us.”

The Auburn Family set an Opening Day attendance record, including a record 1,091 students to go along with the newly-opened Back Forty Deck in right center field.

“The crowd in general today, the hype around baseball and Opening Day was amazing,” Stanfield said. “Shoutout to the Auburn Family. The students in right center were amazing, and they played a big role, too. Going on the road and playing teams with that atmosphere is tough, so I’m glad we have it now on our side.”

Irish and Stanfield drove in four runs apiece to lead the Tigers. Irish matched a career high with four hits, including a double and home run, and Stanfield homered while reaching base four times.

“It was fun,” Irish said of the Opening Day performance. “We executed. We did enough and our offense carried us most of the way. It was fun.”

The Tigers (1-0) wasted no time in getting on scoreboard as Stanfield’s three-run home run off the top of the wall in left center field highlighted the team’s four-run first innings. Mason Maners set the tone with a double on the fourth pitch of the game, marking his first hit in an Auburn uniform, and finished with two hits and two runs.

Eastern Kentucky (0-1) responded with three runs on a pair of homers to cut the lead to one in the top of the second, but Auburn got all three runs back on a balk and a two-RBI single from Irish in the home half of the frame.

“I thought the effort and process was great tonight,” Thompson added. “I thought they were ready to play. I asked them to be consistent, not to rise up to start a season, but just keep doing what they’ve been doing. Top to bottom, I thought everybody was engaged.”

After Chase Allsup retired six straight batters with three strikeouts in the third and fourth innings, Auburn added to it’s lead on Irish’s solo homer that sailed over the batter’s eye in center field in the bottom of the fourth. Allsup ultimately struck out five batters in 4.2 innings.

The Colonels added a pair of unearned run to cut Auburn’s lead to three in the top of the fifth. However, Tanner Bauman (1-0) entered in relief with the tying run at the plate and got a strikeout to end the threat. Bauman retired all four batters he faced.

From there, the Tigers took advantage of three Eastern Kentucky errors and eight walks to score a combined nine runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Leading 13-6, Irish doubled to start the bottom of the seventh and scored on a bases-loaded walk from Stanfield. Cooper Weiss then cleared the bases with a double down the left field line to put the 10-run rule into effect.

Six players made their Auburn debuts tonight, including freshman right hander Cam Tilly, who pitched the seventh inning. The trio of Allsup, Bauman and Tilly did not walk a batter in the contest.

Auburn and Eastern Kentucky face a quick turn around for game two Saturday at 1 p.m. at Plainsman Park.

You may also like