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'You get into a groove': Unbeaten Auburn baseball looks to continue hot start
<em>Hot start: No. 25 Auburn (8-0) is off to its best start in 17 years. Photo: Cat Wofford/Auburn Athletics</em>
Hot start: No. 25 Auburn (8-0) is off to its best start in 17 years. Photo: Cat Wofford/Auburn Athletics
Feb. 27, 2018

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - Pitching seven innings in only his second Auburn start, freshman Tanner Burns saved his best for last, striking out the side in Auburn's 3-1 win Saturday over Bryant.

"His last inning was pretty electric, pretty special," Auburn coach Butch Thompson said.

Burns struck out eight, retiring the last 11 batters he faced. Reliever Calvin Coker earned the win, part of an Auburn bullpen that has compiled a 1.30 ERA during the Tigers' 8-0 start, Auburn's best in 17 years.

"Our bullpen is pretty legit," said Burns, who is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA after two starts. "If we can get to the fifth or sixth inning, it takes pressure off our back to know they're going to put up zeroes. Knowing I have them behind our back, as starters, that's a really good feeling for us."

Alabama's Mr. Baseball and Collegiate Baseball's National High School Player of the Year last year at Decatur High School, Burns turned down the New York Yankees to play for Auburn.

"I knew there are better hitters here [than high school], especially when we start SEC play," said Burns, who has struck out 14 in 12 innings while issuing only two walks. "They're playing Division I baseball, they're here for a reason, so I knew I have to be the best I can be to have success."

For the second time in a week, junior infielder Brendan Venter delivered a clutch hit. Venter's walk-off RBI single gave Auburn a 3-2 win Tuesday over Georgia State. On Saturday, he homered against Bryant in the eighth to break a 1-1 tie.

"You get into a groove as a team," Venter said of Auburn's eight victories in nine days. "You just show up, you get to play every single day. It's a pretty good thing for the team. You get to get on a roll and just keep it going."



Leading the team with a .462 average, Venter is fitting in nicely after transferring from McClennan Community College in Texas.

"I love it. Auburn's a great place," said Venter, who owns a five-game hitting streak. "My teammates have been fantastic. Coach has been great. I've really enjoyed it so far."

"He's probably our most locked in guy right now," said Thompson.

For the first time this season, the Tigers will play away from Plainsman Park when they travel to Mobile Tuesday for a top 25 matchup against South Alabama at 6:30 p.m. CT. The Jaguars (7-1) are ranked No. 21 in Baseball America's top 25 while Auburn entered the poll Monday at No. 25.

"At the end of this eight-game stand, I felt like I've got a little feel for guys and I can start using and trust some guys, pitching wise and offensively," Thompson said.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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