Tigers Take Down Bulldogs 8-4 To Win Series

Auburn took game one of Saturday's doubleheader 8-4 over the Georgia Bulldogs behind the pitching of Michael O'Neal and an improving offense.

Auburn, Ala.—Auburn continued its winning ways in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader as the Tigers defeated Georgia 8-4 to earn the series win over the Bulldogs as they go for the sweep in game two. The victory improves Auburn to 22-13 overall and 5-9 in SEC play and makes it six wins in the last seven games for Coach John Pawlowski's club.

Pitcher Michael O'Neal earned his seventh win of the season on the mound as he allowed just two earned runs on five hits in seven innings for the Tigers. Relievers Chase Williamson, Reid Carter and Terrance Dedrick pitched the final two innings for Auburn to secure the win.

At the plate Ryan Tella had three hits for the Tigers and how has seven in his first two games against Georgia this year. Cullen Wacker also added three hits and his second home run of the season as Auburn pounded out 13 hits in the win. That offense was a blessing says O'Neal as it allowed him to just throw strikes and let his defense play.

"Anytime you can win the series in the SEC it's big-time," O'Neal says. "We need the sweep badly. Anytime you can win a series it's a plus for us. It's good momentum that we've got going, two weekends in a row that we can capitalize on what we're doing. It's nice when you can score seven runs in a game for me.

"Coming out after the second inning with a 3-0 lead and you're in cruise control almost," he adds. "You just throw strike one and get out one and prevent the big innings."

It didn't take long for Auburn to take the lead in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader as Tella picked up where he left off on Friday night with a double to start things for the Tigers. Following a Jordan Ebert fly ball, Wacker stepped to the plate and with one swing changed the complexion of the game. Getting a pitch to hit, the senior pulled it deep over the K Corner in right field for his second homer of the season. That gave O'Neal an early 2-0 lead to work with.

In the second inning the Tigers kept the pressure on as Hunter Kelley doubled to lead things off and eventually scored on a Jordan Ebert infield single. The single extended Auburn's hitting streak to 12 games and kept the heat on Georgia starter Sean McLaughlin. One inning later the Tigers were at it again as Wacker singled up the middle before a Blake Austin hit-by-pitch and a Damek Tomscha walk loaded the bases. With nowhere to put the runner, McLaughlin walked Kelley to score Wacker for the 4-0 Auburn advantage.

Jordan Ebert turns the double play

After three scoreless innings to start the game, O'Neal ran into trouble in the fourth as Nelson Ward singled to start the frame to bring Hunter Cole to the plate. Hitting a smash up the middle, Cole looked like he was headed for single, but O'Neal just got a glove on the ball and deflected it to Mitchell Self at short. He threw to Ebert at second for the force, a move that would prove to be big.

A single from Jared Walsh put runners on first and third with one out for the Bulldogs for Kyle Farmer. O'Neal almost got out of the inning with no damage done as a ground ball to Tomscha and a throw to Ebert at second cut down the runner, but the throw wasn't in time for the double play. Cole scored on the play to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.

In the bottom of the fifth Auburn again did some damage at the plate as Tomscha drilled a two-out bomb over the wall in left field for his second home run of the season. That seemed to spur the Tigers on as Kelley and Self singled to bring Tella to the plate. Staying hot the center fielder drilled a double into the gap in left field to drive home two more runs and give Auburn a commanding 7-1 lead.

Georgia began to chip away at the Auburn lead in the seventh thanks to plenty of help from the Tigers' defense. Farmer singled to start things for the Bulldogs, but O'Neal recovered to get the next two hitters before a walk to pinch hitter Daniel Nichols kept the inning alive for Georgia. Getting a ground ball to Tomscha at third, O'Neal looked like he would get out of the inning, but Tomscha's throw to first was wild. That allowed the run to score and when Powell singled home Nichols for the second unearned run of the inning it was now just 7-3 Tigers.

Going back out for the eighth inning, O'Neal walked Cole to end his day as Williamson came on in relief. Allowing a single to the first batter he faced, the sophomore allowed a single to Walsh before a Brett DeLoach double pushed across a run for the Bulldogs. A walk loaded the bases with two outs before Auburn brought on reliever Reid Carter. The Auburn native got a fly ball out of Bryan to end the threat and keep the Tigers up by three.

Auburn got some big insurance in the bottom of the inning as Ebert walked with one out and moved around to third on Wacker's third hit of the game. Struggling so far in the series, first baseman Garrett Cooper laced a single into left field to score the freshman for the 8-4 Auburn lead. Dedrick shut the door on Georgia in the ninth to secure the win as he struck out two of the three batters he faced.

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