Helena’s Fitts throws 3.1 innings but Auburn falls short in CWS elimination game

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

OMAHA, Neb. – Freshman Auburn pitcher Richard Fitts found himself on the mound in another big postseason situation the afternoon of Wednesday, June 19, giving Auburn several solid innings of relief, but unfortunately, the Tigers fell 5-3 to Louisville in an elimination game at the College World Series.

The game had some unusual circumstances as June 19, marked the second day of the game after the game was rained out the night of June 18.

On June 18, Louisville jumped out to a 4-1 lead against Auburn going into the top of the fifth inning. As a larger storm system approached Omaha, officials made the decision to delay the game and eventually postpone it until June 19.

Because of this, Fitts, a Helena local, got the ball in the top of the fifth inning the following day needing to limit the Louisville offense and keep Auburn within striking distance of making a comeback.

Fitts did more than enough on the mound, as the freshman tossed three scoreless innings giving up a couple of hits while striking out two as the Tigers entered the eighth inning trailing 4-2.

Fitts gave up one earned run and was eventually lifted from the game with one out in the top of the eighth inning, but the freshman was efficient throwing 32 strikes on 48 total pitches.

With Louisville leading 5-2, Auburn perhaps had its best opportunity to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs after three straight singles, but Judd Ward struck out swinging on the sixth pitch of the at bat to end the inning.

Auburn would tack on one more run from a Conor Davis solo home run in the bottom of the ninth but that’s all the Tigers could muster in the 5-3 loss, as the trip to Omaha marked Auburn’s first trip to the College World Series since 1997.

As for Fitts, the Louisville game marked the final appearance of what was a tremendous freshman year.

The Helena native finished the season with a 5-3 record on 62.2 innings pitched. He also recorded 47 strikeouts compared to just 17 walks.

For a team that featured just two seniors on the entire roster, the trip to the College World Series was a huge accomplishment for Fitts and the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers will look to build on that momentum in the 2020 season as a number of players will be back on the field for Auburn looking to make another deep postseason run.