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Opening Night at Plainsman Park, Auburn beats Eastern Kentucky University 17-6, F/7

Record-Setting Opening Day Win for Auburn Baseball over Eastern Kentucky

A record 4,403 fans were in attendance Friday night on Opening Day to watch the No. 23 Auburn Tigers beat the Eastern Kentucky Colonels 17-6 in seven innings. A record-breaking 1,091 students attended the game, making it the largest student crowd in program history.

“The hype around baseball and opening day was amazing,” said Chris Stanfield. “Shout out to the Auburn Family. The students in center field were amazing, and that plays a big role too.”

Auburn scored four runs on four hits and a walk in the first inning off Colonel SP Isaac Milburn. Chris Stanfield launched a 397-foot three-run home run to left center field.

“We’re just trying to have good at-bats,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “It’s the ability to evaluate the strike zone, and that we just need to get to what's important. Those are the things that you're teaching trying to breed consistency."

Junior Chase Allsup got the Opening Day nod for the second straight year from head coach Butch Thompson. After a 1-2-3 first inning, Allsup gave up two towering home runs to right field, one to freshman Tait Nunnally and the other to senior Max Williams.

Eastern Kentucky head coach Chris Prothro went to the bullpen early, after Milburn allowed seven runs on five hits, four balks, and two walks in just 1.1 innings pitched. Colonel pitchers allowed 12 walks.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, sophomore Ike Irish hit his first home run of the season, a towering 420-foot solo shot over the batter’s eye in center field. The blast extended Auburn’s lead 8-3.

“Yeah, that’s got to be the furthest ball I’ve ever hit,” said Irish. The sophomore catcher finished Opening Day 4-5 with two extra-base hits and three RBIs.

“I've yet in a year plus now I've yet to see him give away any at-bats. When [Ike Irish] steps in the box is pretty personal,” said coach Thompson. “He has a lot of type A and he's competitive. It's personal when he steps in the box, and I love that about him.”

Auburn's two errors in the fifth led to coach Thompson pulling Allsup after 4.2 innings pitched and 81 pitches. Allsup faced 21 batters and walked none. Senior Tanner Bauman pitched 1.1 innings in relief and recorded the win. Auburn pitchers gave up no walks all night.

The Tigers batted around in the bottom of the sixth inning and scored five runs on six walks and two hits against Eastern Kentucky junior Hamilton Martinez, extending their lead to 13-5. In the next inning, Auburn's Cooper Weiss smacked a double down the left-field line, securing a 17-6 walk-off run-rule victory.

After taking game one of the series, the Tigers look to clinch their first series win of the 2024 season, on Saturday. First pitch is set for 1 pm. Joseph Gonzalez returns to the mound Saturday for the Tigers, after making just one start in 2023 due to injury.