Post by Price Everett for Alabama NewsCenter
Auburn finished off its series against North Carolina with a 14-7 win, scoring 13 runs in the top of the first inning Monday.
As pitcher Richard Fitts said, “That first inning really helped us a lot.”
Only LSU’s 18-run inning against Georgia Tech in 1996 ranks higher for most runs scored by a team in a single inning in NCAA tournament play.
Auburn will advance to the College World Series for the first time since 1997.
North Carolina made sporadic runs throughout the game, including three in the fourth inning, but could never get close to the Tigers’ early lead. The Tar Heels went through three pitchers in the first inning trying to stop Auburn’s offense.
The game started with four straight walks, forcing Judd Ward across home plate with Auburn’s first run. Edouard Julien singled, which drove in Ryan Bliss and Connor Davis. After that, the runs kept coming.
“We were sitting there at the hotel last night, on the bus today, saying, ‘Let’s swing it. Let’s score first,’” said Rankin Woley, Auburn first baseman. “We put up 13. We didn’t want to stop because we knew they’re a great hitting team, and they could come back at any point.”
Tanner Burns was the starting pitcher for the Tigers and threw two shutout innings that included three strikeouts. Burns didn’t allow a hit until the third inning.
Auburn had 18 hits, with seven Tigers achieving at least two. Ward, Woley and Julien had three hits each.
Auburn is the first team to beat North Carolina at the Chapel Hill Super Regional, with the Tar Heels making it to Omaha the past six times.
As the game ended, Auburn players rushed to the infield.
“To see our players celebrate is special to me,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “To see the perseverance and to see these young men rally around one another, I am proud to be their coach. I’m proud of every player that’s ever put on an Auburn uniform.”
Auburn’s next game will be this weekend against a fellow SEC West team, Mississippi State.
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