Auburn, Ala.--Coming off a series victory over Texas A&M
last weekend, Coach Sunny Golloway
and the Auburn Tigers (14-7) were looking to continue the momentum against outmanned Coppin State (4-10) Tuesday night at Plainsman Park. Pounding out 16 hits and emptying the bench in the process, the Tigers cruised to a 10-0 win in the first of two against the Eagles.
The story of the night for No. 29 (Collegiate Baseball) Auburn was the pitching of senior Michael O'Neal. Out of the weekend rotation after struggling his last two outings, the left-hander allowed just two hits in six innings to get his first victory of the year. Not a power pitcher, O'Neal lives and dies with his fastball, but recently Golloway has had him trying to throw more breaking balls. Tuesday night he let the senior do his thing and saw the results first-hand.
"I learned a lot about Michael O'Neal today," Golloway said. "I thought a little bit of it during the middle of the game was on me and it probably has been up to this point. He's predominate fastball and throw the ball down the middle and let the ball work. I'm trying to have him throw back-door breaking balls and probably trying to finesse too much. When you look at him, he doesn't throw firm.
"You don't think he's going to be a power-guy like we did with (Trey) Wingenter there towards the end. We've got to let him pitch in the middle of the zone and let the ball work more. I think he did a really good job. We turned the game over to Blake (Austin) at a certain point and just let them go with it. When we did that he pitched much better."
Scoring a run in all eight innings at the plate, Auburn was led by freshman Connor Short with three hits and a run scored. Jordan Ebert added two hits and three RBI while Ryan Tella chipped in with a pair of hits and two RBI as the Tigers pounded out 16 hits. Getting six walks from Coppin State and two additional errors, Auburn scored 10 runs but left 17 runners on base in the process. Golloway said while it wasn't perfect, he was pleased with how his team approached the game.
"It's about trying to score every inning and we did that," Golloway said. "That's big. When we get a guy on we can bunt him up or steal to get him into scoring position. If we didn't get a hit we were moving him to third and hitting a sac fly. Our guys aren't trying to do too much. We're not trying to score six or seven runs in one inning. There will be at time when we'll have to do that and get patient and give it to the next guy and come from behind, but when you get out to a lead you just have to keep putting pressure on your opponent. Our guys are really doing a good job of that."
Auburn wasted little time getting to Coppin State as Ebert singled to lead off the game and came around to score on a bunt single from Tella. The Tigers would eventually load the bases before a groundout by Damon Haecker to the pitcher ended the inning. In the second, Short singled and stole second to bring Sam Gillikin to the plate. Playing in his first game of the season because of an injury, the sophomore reached on an infield single to move Short to third. Up for the second time, Ebert put down a perfect squeeze bunt to make it 2-0 Tigers. Gillikin was caught stealing at third before Dan Glevenyak singled and Damek Tomscha was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second for Tella and he delivered again with a single to make it 3-0.
Auburn added single runs in the fourth and fifth before tacking on two more in the sixth. The big blow came from freshman Daniel Robert as his triple to right field scored Jordan Shaffer. He eventually scored on an Ebert single for an eight-run lead for the Tigers. Adding a run in both the seventh and eighth innings made it a 10-run advantage as relievers Wingenter and Rocky McCord finished off the win.
Auburn will take on Coppin State at 3 p.m. on Wednesday before the Tigers take to the road this weekend at Tennessee in the first road series of the year. Freshman Kevin Davis will make his second start of the season for the Tigers as he continues to recover from a sore arm that kept him out of fall practice.
Game Two Box Score
Auburn defeated Coppin State 10-0 Tuesday night behind the pitching of senior Michael O'Neal.