Strong Pitching Leads Tigers To DH Sweep

Auburn swept a doubleheader from the Maine Black Bears on Saturday to improve to 3-0 early in the 2013 season.

Auburn, Ala.—Following a dominating win in game one of Saturday's doubleheader, the Auburn Tigers finished off a sweep on a frigid day at Plainsman Park with a 4-3 win over the Maine Black Bears behind strong pitching from its bullpen. Relievers Jay Wade, Conner Kendrick and Terrance Dedrick combined to allow just two hits and no runs in three and one/third innings to secure the win for Coach John Pawlowski's club.

"After the first game their concentration could have wavered," Pawlowski says. "We scored a lot of runs with a lot of two-out hits. I thought our guys really buckled down (in game two) because it was a close game. That game wasn't over until the last pitch. I'm proud of the way our guys handled themselves today from a maturity standpoint."

Making his first career appearance, junior college transfer Michael O'Neal was very good for the Tigers. Allowing just two earned runs on six hits in five and two/thirds innings, the left-hander gave Auburn a shot to win with his performance and the bullpen finished it off. O'Neal says that's something he expects every time after getting to watch his fellow pitchers since last fall.

"It makes you not have to worry that much," O'Neal says of his bullpen mates. "You know Conner and Terrance come in and the game is over. They are both going to strike out whoever they face. They have dirty off-speed stuff. It's over as soon as they come in."

Getting the win in Friday's game, Dedrick pitched the ninth inning in game two on Saturday with the Tigers clinging to a one-run lead and was dominant. Striking out two and getting a ground ball back to the mound for third out, the Tuscaloosa native says it's hard to imagine a better start to his career than the one he's had.

"I stay in the bullpen just to make sure I keep my arm warm in case I have to go in at any time," Dedrick says. "Mike O'Neal did a great job of pitching and keeping us in the game. Conner Kendrick came in and made some big pitches. When they gave me the call I just came in and tried to do my best."

Dominating in game one Auburn Wins 12-3, Auburn cruised through the first two innings behind O'Neal until he ran into trouble in the third. Giving up a leadoff single to Kyle Silva and a sacrifice bunt to move him into scoring position, O'Neal allowed another single to Troy Black to center field. Coming up throwing, Tella cut down Silva at the plate to keep the game scoreless. O'Neal wouldn't be as fortunate the second time around as Colin Gay's single to left field pushed across Black just ahead of the Jackson Burgreen throw for the 1-0 Maine lead.

Michael O'Neal

After struggling the first two innings at the plate, the Tigers answered back in the bottom of the third. Following back-to-back walks to Tanner Cimo and Burgreen, Dan Glevenyak bunted both runners into scoring position for center fielder Ryan Tella. Getting a pitch to drive, Tella blasted a liner into center field that Gay dove for but misplayed. The ball bounced into deep center field allowing both runners to score and Tella to cruise into third with a triple. Garrett Cooper then drove him home with a ground ball to shortstop for a 3-1 Auburn lead.

The Tigers extended the lead in the fourth as freshman right fielder Sam Gillikin walked with one out to bring catcher Kody Ortman to the plate. Playing to give Blake Austin a rest, Ortman drilled a double off the wall in left field to put runners on second and third with one out and Cimo coming to the plate. Doing his job, the Auburn High product lifted a fly ball to center field for the three-run Auburn lead going to the fifth.

Following a scoreless fifth, O'Neal's day wound end in the sixth as Gay doubled to start the sixth and White reached on a throwing error by O'Neal after his sacrifice bunt to move the runner up. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Michael Fransoso's bunt scored Gay to make it 4-2. Two more singles made it a one-run game before Wade came on to strike out Brian Doran to end the threat.

Kendrick and Dedrick then slammed the door on the Black Bears to secure the doubleheader sweep and give Auburn a chance for the four-game sweep on Sunday at 11 a.m. At the plate Ortman was the only Tiger with two hits while Tella added one hit and two RBI. For the day the junior had five RBI on three hits.

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