Auburn Blasts Aggies To Earn Series Win

Auburn homered three times and got another strong start from Michael O'Neal to earn the series win over Texas A&M on Saturday. The Tigers will go for the sweep on Sunday.

Auburn, Ala.—Auburn scored five runs in the third inning, with home runs from Cullen Wacker, Garrett Cooper and Blake Austin, to power by Texas A&M 10-5 on Saturday to take the series from the Aggies. The Tigers tied a season-high with 14 hits and got a quality start from Michael O'Neal as Coach John Pawlowski's club improves to 19-12 overall and 3-8 in SEC play.

"It's good to win this game for a lot of reasons," Pawlowski says. "The main reason is that the confidence continues to build. There is a change in the air around our ball club right now. Obviously what we did offensively today was a tremendous sign. We got some balls up in the wind and hit some balls hard too. It was great to see that today."

At the plate Wacker and Cooper had three hits each while Ryan Tella and Jackson Burgreen added two each with Tella adding a pair of stolen bases in the win. Showing some signs of life late in Friday's win, the Tigers exploded on Saturday and Wacker says it has been a long time coming.

"It's great," Wacker says. "Hitting is contagious and we swung the bats well today. We had balls that had eyes after balls had not been finding the holes lately. It just came through yesterday and today and we're glad.

"Tella, Cooper, Blake, all those guys have really started to feel confident," he adds. "We did it last year, but it seems like we haven't really found our swings here lately. I think it's starting to come around. We're looking forward to keeping this rolling."

On the mound O'Neal allowed just two earned runs on six hits in six innings to pick up the win as his ERA drops to just 2.37 this season. Finishing things off on the mound, sophomore Trey Cochran-Gill allowed two runs on five hits in three innings to earn the save. Unlike the trend this season for the Auburn Tigers, on Saturday they didn't fall behind but instead broke out the offense early and often. It started in the first inning as Tella walked and moved to third following a pair of ground balls. With a man in scoring position, Cooper singled home the speedy center fielder for the 1-0 lead. The Tigers eventually loaded the bases with the chance to add even more, but an Austin ground ball ended the inning.

In the third the Tigers would break the game open thanks to the long ball. Leading off the inning, Wacker got a pitch to hit and lifted it over the wall in right field for his first home run of the season. The blast opened up the floodgates for Auburn as Cooper followed with his second homer in as many days against Texas A&M to make it 3-0.

With one out Burgreen singled to bring Austin to the plate. Swinging the bat well lately, the junior deposited a pitch over the left field wall for his second home run of the season. That made it a five-run lead for the Tigers, but they weren't done yet as Dan Glevenyak was hit by a pitch and scored on a Tella single after moving to second on a sacrifice bunt.

Leading 6-0, Auburn came back for even more in the fourth as Wacker and Cooper singled to start the inning. After both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Damek Tomscha, Burgreen's ground ball to the right side was booted by the Aggies for an error. That allowed Wacker to score for the seven-run lead.

Austin's third RBI of the game came on a sacrifice fly to score Cooper and with Burgreen on second following a stolen base, Glevenyak singled him home for a huge 9-0 lead for O'Neal to work with.

Cruising through the first three innings, the junior gave Texas A&M some help in the fourth as he hit the leadoff man before allowing back-to-back singles. On the second O'Neal compounded his mistake as he threw away the infield single for an error to allow the second run of the inning to score. With the advantage cut to 9-2, the Tigers got a pair of line drive outs to end the threat.

In the seventh Tella was again at the center of things for Auburn's offense as he singled with one out and stole second with two outs to move into scoring position. Wacker came through with his third hit of the game to drive home Tella from second and make it an eight-run advantage for the Tigers, but O'Neal's day would soon come to a close.

Walking the leadoff man Mitchell Nau, the junior gave up a single to Troy Stein to put runners on the corners with nobody out for the Aggies. That was all for O'Neal as Cochran-Gill came in to try to stifle the Texas A&M rally. The sophomore did his job as he allowed just one Aggie run to send it to the eighth with Auburn up by seven.

The Aggies threatened to get back in the game in the ninth inning as they scored a pair of runs off Cochran-Gill, but he finished things off to earn the save.

Auburn goes for the series sweep on Sunday at 1 p.m. as the Tigers are expected to start sophomore Will Kendall against Texas A&M.

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