They’re not done yet.
Starting pitcher Trace Bright set an Auburn College World Series record with eight strikeouts, Cole Foster drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double and Blake Burkhalter earned his 16th save to lead the No. 14 Tigers to a 6-2 win over No. 2 Stanford Monday at Charles Schwab Field.
“Exciting to get a win for our program here in Omaha,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “These guys are giving us all they’ve got and I love my team.”
Trailing 2-0 in the sixth, Bobby Peirce drew a bases-loaded walk to score Mike Bello, who led off with a single, advanced to second on Blake Rambusch’s single and moved to third when Sonny DiChiara was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Foster drilled a double off the wall in left-center to empty the bases, plating Rambusch, DiChiara and Peirce for a 4-2 Auburn advantage.
“That swing meant a lot and Cole came up in a big moment,” said Kason Howell, who along with Foster and Rambusch paced Auburn’s offense with two hits apiece. “He’s been huge for us all year but that really put a spark in the offense today.”
Bello set the table again in the seventh, drawing a leadoff walk. Rambusch followed with a double to give the Tigers runners on second and third with no outs. Auburn extended its lead to 5-2 when Brody Moore’s sacrifice fly scored Bryson Ware, who pinch-ran for Bello and remained in the game to play left field.
With two outs, Peirce doubled home Rambusch to put the Tigers on top 6-2. Stanford struck first with three doubles in the first two innings, scoring single runs in each inning to lead 2-0. Bright (5-4) blanked the Cardinal over the next three innings, retiring seven straight from the end of the third through the fifth inning, fanning eight without a walk while allowing five hits.
“He steadied himself and went to another level in the third,” Thompson said. “That’s a developmental piece where I’m proud of him.” Auburn threatened in the fifth when Brooks Carlson led off with a double and Foster followed with a four-pitch walk to put two on with no outs, but the Tigers were unable to cash in. Tommy Sheehan relieved Bright in the sixth, striking out the side. When Stanford loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, Blake Burkhalter relieved Sheehan, striking out Stanford’s Brett Barrera on a full count to end the inning.
Burkhalter set down all three Stanford batters in the eighth, striking out two. In the ninth, he struck out the first two, gave up an infield single and got Stanford leadoff hitter Brock Jones to pop up to Rambusch for the final out.
“It’s all starting to click at the right time,” said Burkhalter, who also saved the deciding game of the Corvallis Super Regional. “The mental aspect, that’s been locked since postseason play and everything is starting to click on the mound.”
Bright, Sheehan and Burkhalter combined for 16 strikeouts while issuing only one walk. “I knew the offense was about to heat up at some point,” Bright said.
“I knew they had our back. Tommy and Burky coming in after me, I knew they had the game right where they wanted it. I was happy with them finishing the game.” The victory was Auburn’s first vs. Stanford (47-18) in their five meetings at the College World Series.
“Winning a game here against an amazing program, it’s another sense of accomplishment for our program,” Thompson said. “It’s not just a win. It’s important for us as we try to continue to build our program and build a brand of sincere respectability. It is a big deal.”
One of six teams still in contention for the national championship, including four from the SEC West, Auburn (43-21) will play Arkansas Tuesday at 6 PM with the winner needing to defeat Ole Miss twice to reach the finals.
“I want us to fight and I want us to attack. That’s all you can ask for,” Thompson said. “Thankful for today and excited about tomorrow.”