"I thought it was real important," Coach Sunny Golloway said of getting off to a good start. "We have really worked hard since we got back from Ole Miss on our approach at the plate and swinging the bat. I thought we really got after it and attacked the baseball well."
Much of the offensive success came at the top of the order from Tella and sophomore left fielder Jordan Ebert. While Tella was the hitting star, going 4-5 with three RBI, Ebert chipped in with two hits and a run batted in as well. Golloway said it was great to see those guys continue to swing it well.
"Those two are playing really well for us," Golloway said. "They are veterans and they are playing really well for us. I'm proud of the way that both of them are swinging the bat right now. We'll continue to work. There are some things we want to get better at."
Ebert with one of his two hits on the night. He leads the team with a .385 average.
What makes Auburn's win even more impressive is that it came without two veterans in the lineup. Missing the game because of a violation of team policy, seniors Dan Glevenyak and Damek Tomscha are expected to be back in the lineup this weekend, but Golloway said he needed to set the tone for the team and sitting them down was the right call.
"They were eligible to play," Golloway said. "It was a very minor thing, more of just attitude and effort. That's something you control every day and we need to control that every day. Don't get me wrong, I want to make sure the message is sent clear. It's a very minor thing, nothing major. It costs you a start that's all."
Without those two in the lineup it was an entirely freshman infield with Keegan Thompson at first, Brett Binning at second, Damon Haecker at shortstop and Connor Short at third base. The group combined to play flawless defense in the field as the Tigers had one of their cleanest games of the year.
Wanting to get as many guys work as possible on the mound, Golloway sent eight different pitchers to the mound with Daniel Koger pitching the first two innings before giving way to Jacob Milliman, Justin Camp, Michael O'Neal, Robby Clements, Trey Wingenter, Trey Cochran-Gill and Terrance Dedrick to pitch one inning each to finish things off.
"When you run eight guys out there, there is a good chance somebody is not going to be on their game," Golloway said. "For all eight of them to throw the ball well was very surprising. We had Jay Wade as our wildcard to fill an inning if someone got in trouble, and we never had to use him. We told them not to worry about the score, just to go out there and record three outs regardless."
Auburn got the offense started early as Ebert doubled with one out in the top of the first to bring Tella to the plate. Getting a pitch to turn on, the senior lifted it to right-center field for his fourth double of the season. Ebert easily scored on the play to give the Tigers the first run of the game. Following a Blake Austin ground ball that moved Tella to third, a Robert single to left gave Auburn a quick 2-0 lead.
Pounding out four hits in the second inning, but scoring just one run thanks to an inning-ending double play, Auburn again went to work in the third. Now up 3-0, the Tigers got a leadoff double from Robert to put the offense in business once again. A sacrifice bunt moved to big freshman to third where he would later score on an Anfernee Grier infield single.
With Auburn's pitcher-by-committee approach working, the Tigers came back for more in the bottom of the sixth inning still leading 4-0. Leading things off, freshman second baseman Brett Binning reached on an error and moved to second on a balk. Following a walk to shortstop Damon Haecker, an Ebert ground ball moved both runners into scoring position for Tella. Continuing his hot night, Tella ripped a single to left field to score both runners and give the Tigers a six-run cushion. That's how things would finish as Auburn earned its fifth shutout of the season.
Auburn will hit the road once again this weekend as the Tigers will travel to Tuscaloosa to face surging Alabama in a three-game series. Alabama leads the SEC with an 8-4 conference record after four weeks of play. Game times for the series are 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.