The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
NCAA Baseball Championship – Auburn Regional - Auburn, Alabama

Big bats break records in Auburn's regional opener win

114 days ago
Auburn Athletics
Photo: Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. - The elephant in the room quickly became the Tiger in the park.

Cole Foster crushed three of Auburn's seven home runs and drove in nine to lead the Tigers to a 19-7 victory Friday in the opening day of the Auburn Regional at standing-room-only Plainsman Park.

In the buildup to Auburn's first home regional in 12 years, head coach Butch Thompson referred to the Tigers' recent offensive woes as "the elephant in the room."

Auburn quickly addressed that concern by scoring 11 first-inning runs, equaling in just one inning the Tigers' combined output in their previous four games.

"Great night for us," Thompson said. "The entire lineup came out swinging. We've been looking for that. When you see them invest in something and then get rewarded for it, that's a good feeling."

Playing for the first time in seven games while recovering from an oblique injury, Foster drilled a towering two-run homer over the Green Monster in left field after Blake Rambusch led off with a single.

After Sonny DiChiara singled, Bobby Peirce homered to right-center to give Auburn a 4-0 lead. The Tigers' first eight batters reached base, with Brooks Carlson doubling and scoring on a balk to make it 5-0.

Batting ninth, Mike Bello's sacrifice fly scored Brody Moore to put Auburn ahead 6-0

After Rambusch was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Foster wrote his name in the record books by hitting a grand slam for a 10-0 Tigers advantage.

The switch-hitting Foster batted right-handed for his first homer and left-handed for his second, becoming the first player in program history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning, a feat only three players in Major League Baseball history have accomplished, including former Auburn standout Mark Bellhorn.

DiChiara followed with Auburn's fourth homer for an 11-0 lead to cap the first-inning fireworks, the Tigers' first four-homer inning since 2010.

Auburn's power surge continued in the second inning with a solo homer from Nate LaRue and a Rambusch double that plated Bello to make it 13-1.

Batting left-handed in the bottom of the fourth, Foster became the first player in program history to homer three times in an NCAA Tournament game, smashing a three-run shot to right field.

"It's definitely awesome to have a night like this," Foster said. "I'm just glad we came out on top."

Foster doubled in the eighth to finish with 14 total bases, equaling a program record shared by Tony Caldwell (2011), Bo Jackson (1985) and Bob Berry (1982).

LaRue's second homer, a solo shot in the sixth, helped the Tigers tie the program record for most home runs in a game with seven.

Auburn tacked on two more in the eighth, tying its season high with 19 runs on a season-best 20 hits.

Nine different players recorded a hit in the game, including six with multiple hits. Auburn starter Trace Bright (4-4, 4.80) benefited from that bountiful run support, striking out a career-high 10 while allowing four runs in five innings. The Tigers have won the past six games in which Bright has started.

"It's comforting to have 11 runs in the first inning," Bright said. "Kudos to Cole and everybody else up and down the lineup. You've still got to stay locked in, you've still got to stay focused, you've still got to treat it like a 0-0 ballgame."

Konner Copeland struck out four in 2.2 innings and Brooks Fuller recorded the final four outs of Auburn's program-record seventh consecutive regional victory.

Southeastern Louisiana starter Adam Guth failed to record an out, allowing earned runs to all eight batters he faced, to fall to 4-2.

Fans packed the Tigers Terrace down the left-field line, filled each level of the stadium parking deck and enjoyed a warm afternoon and evening under tents beyond the fence in right-center field.

"Everybody's worked during our tenure here for seven years to create a night like that in our ballpark," Thompson said. "That's special."

"Growing up an Auburn fan, it's amazing to see that kind of crowd for this environment to be what it was tonight," said Bright, a native of nearby Montgomery. "We hope to continue that all weekend. It's amazing to play behind."

Auburn (38-19) will play Florida State Saturday at 6 p.m. CT in the winner's bracket while Southeastern Louisiana (30-30) meets UCLA Saturday at noon CT in an elimination game.