AUBURN, Ala. - No. 17 Auburn secured the series win by defeating Presbyterian, 6-1, Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
Richard Fitts got the Tigers (2-0) off to a strong start on the mound and, similar to Friday night, Auburn got four shutouts innings from four different relievers.
The offense was highlighted by a trio of solo home runs from Bryson Ware, Nate LaRue and Ryan Bliss. The home runs for Ware and LaRue were the first of their Auburn careers, while Ware and Bliss collected multiple hits for the second straight day.
"Yeah, it was a 3-2 slider that just kind of hung up there, and I was lucky enough to put a good swing on it" LaRue said. "Just running around the bases, man, there's nothing like the fans here. They do the 'War Eagle' for when you step on the plate. You can't help but smile."
Fitts allowed one run on a solo homer and issued two walks with six strikeouts. The junior right-hander faced the minimum and struck out six through four innings before giving up the solo homer to start the fifth.
"I was pumped. It was something that I was really excited for," Fitts said of getting back on the mound. "Being able to play against another team is a lot of run, and being able to look up in the stands, it's pretty exciting to see some fan. It was definitely an experience that I'm going to remember for a long time."
After Hayden Mullins (1-0, 0.00) escaped a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the sixth, Auburn stepped to the plate in the home half and broke the 1-1 tie on a balk with a runner on third.
Like Mullins, Blake Burkhalter got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, this time with one out, and Auburn added to its lead on a pair of solo homers from LaRue and Bliss in the bottom of the frame.
"They buckled down," head coach Butch Thompson said of his relievers. "Hayden Mullins showed us something. Burkhalter showed us something. They really made some pitches to get us through."
Joseph Gonzalez made his Auburn debut and recorded a strikeout in the top of the eighth, and the Tigers tacked on a pair of insurance runs on a two-out RBI single from John Samuel Shenker followed by a two-out RBI double from LaRue.
Carson Skipper became the 10th different Auburn pitcher to take the mound through two games and closed the door in the ninth.
Along with turning in two more hits at the plate, Bliss anchored the Auburn defense, making a sliding stop and throw to end the fourth and starting a double play on a sharply hit grounder to end the eighth.
"Yeah, I knew last season I was going to make the move over to short, and we just worked really hard and had a routine every day," Bliss said. "I feel comfortable at that position and its' worked well for me.
"I've been here for a couple years and I can see how a game three can get away from you, but we just got to come out here and treat it like it's a Friday night and close," Bliss added. "That's one thing Coach Thompson harps on is closing."
The Tigers will go for the series sweep tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT.