"It's pretty awesome," O'Neal says. "That's my first shutout, including junior college, and I threw 12 complete games there, but I always gave up a run in the ninth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs Coach P (John Pawlowski) came out there and asked me if I had it. I told him I wasn't coming out of the game. It was pretty awesome."
Dominating through eight innings, allowing just three hits to Brown, O'Neal ran into trouble in the ninth as he allowed three consecutive singles with two outs to bring pinch hitter Noah Shulman to the plate for the Bears. With O'Neal struggling to finish things off Pawlowski says he wanted to make sure his pitcher looked confident he could finish the game. Once he arrived he says he had no doubts O'Neal was ready.
"Sometimes you can tell with a pitcher's demeanor whether he wants to be out there or not," Pawlowski says. "He knew how close he was. Physically he was good. I was just doing a quick mental check and everything was all lined up and he certainly finished it for us."
At the plate Ryan Tella and Garrett Cooper each had a pair of hits and drove in two runs for the Tigers as the team finished with 10 hits on the day. Freshman Jordan Ebert extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single and also scored a run.
Following a slow start offensively by both teams, Auburn got the offense untracked in the bottom of the third against Brown starter Dave St. Lawrence with a pair of freshman serving as catalysts. Ebert singled to start the inning and moved around to third on a double by Jackson Burgreen to put the Tigers in business.
Damek Tomscha throws out a runner at first. The juco transfer drove in two runs on Saturday and has reached base in every game this season.
Delivering a single to put the Tigers on the board, Dan Glevenyak quickly stole second to move into scoring position with Tella at the plate. A walk to the speedy center fielder loaded the bases with nobody out for Tomscha and a ground ball by the junior college third baseman scored Burgreen to make it 2-0 Tigers. Cullen Wacker then lifted a fly ball to right field to easily score Glevenyak and just like that O'Neal had a three-run lead to work with.
Cruising on the mound, O'Neal kept Brown scoreless through five innings and his offense added to the lead in the bottom of the inning on a Cooper RBI single. Now up 4-0, the Tigers added to the advantage two innings later.
With one out in the seventh Tella singled and stole second to move into scoring position for Tomscha. Getting a pitch to drive Tomscha doubled to left field to score Tella for the five-run lead for the Tigers. Cooper finished off the scoring with his second RBI single of the game to make it 6-0 Tigers going to the eighth.
That's all O'Neal would need as he finished off the complete game to earn his fourth win. He threw just 115 pitches in the outing and walked just two hitters.
Auburn goes for the series sweep on Sunday with the game time now scheduled for noon at Plainsman Park. Sophomore Rocky McCord (1-0, 4.63 ERA) will get the start for the Tigers with the entire bullpen also available if needed. Don't forget to set your clocks up one hour for daylight savings time.