Foster’s three-homerun night leads No. 14 Auburn to Southeast blowout

AUBURN, Alabama The elephant in the room quickly became the Tiger of the park.

Cole Foster smashed three of Auburn‘s seven home runs and drove nine to lead the Tigers to a 19-7 victory Friday in the Auburn Area Opener at Plainsman Park with standing room.

In the build-up to Auburn’s first home regional in 12 years, the head coach Butch Thompson called the Tigers’ recent offensive woes “the elephant in the room.”

Auburn quickly responded to that concern by scoring 11 runs in the first inning, matching the Tigers’ combined output in their previous four games in a single inning.

“Great night for us,” Thompson said. “The whole lineup came out strong. We were looking for that. When you see them investing in something and then being rewarded for it, that’s a good feeling.”

Playing for the first time in seven games while recovering from an oblique injury, Foster drilled an imposing two-run homer on the green monster in left field after Blake Rambusch started with a single.

After Sonny Di Chiara single, Bobby Pierce struck 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 refusal to make it 5-0.

Flying ninth, by Mike Bello sacrificed fly marked 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 advantage over the Tigers.

Foster, who hit the switch, hit right-handed for his first home run and left-handed for his second, becoming the first player in program history to homer from both sides of home plate in the same inning, a achievement of only three players in Major League Baseball. history have accomplished, including former Auburn star Mark Bellhorn.

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

Auburn’s surge continued in the second inning with a solo homer of Nate LaRue and a brace from Rambusch that tackled Bello to make it 13-1.

Battling with a left hand in the bottom of the fourth, Foster became the first player in program history to hit three homers in an NCAA Tournament game, hitting a three-point shot to right field.

“It’s really great to have an evening like this,” Foster said. “I’m just glad we came out on top.”

Foster doubled in eighth to finish with 14 total goals, tying 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 homers in a game with seven.

Auburn added two more in the eighth, tying their season high with 19 runs on the season’s top 20 hits. Nine Tigers recorded one hit in the game, including six with multiple hits.

auburn starter light trail (4-4, 4.80) benefited from that abundant running support, hitting a career-high 10 while allowing four runs in five innings. The Tigers have won the last six games in which Bright has started.

“It’s comforting to have 11 runs in the first inning,” Bright said. “Congratulations to Cole and everyone else up and down the lineup. You still gotta stay locked in, you still gotta stay focused, you still gotta treat it like a 0-0 game.”

Konner Copeland four strikeouts in 2.2 innings and Brooks Fuller recorded the final four outs of Auburn’s program-record seventh straight regional victory.

Southeast Louisiana starter Adam Guth failed to register an out, allowing the earned runs of the eight batters he faced to fall to 4-2.

Fans packed Tiger Terrace along the left-field line, filled every level of the stadium parking lot, and enjoyed a hot afternoon and evening under tents beyond the fence in the center right field.

“Everyone worked during our tenure here for seven years to create a night like this at our ballpark,” Thompson said. “It is special.”

“Growing up as an Auburn fan, it’s amazing to see this kind of crowd to make this environment what it was tonight,” said Bright, from nearby Montgomery. “We hope to continue like this all weekend. It’s incredible to play behind.”

Auburn (38-19) will face Florida State on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. CT in the winners’ group while Southeast Louisiana (30-30) will meet UCLA on Saturday at noon CT in a playoff game.

About Harold Shirley

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