Missed Opportunities Haunt Auburn In 1-0 Loss

Auburn fell to Ohio State 1-0 in the second game of the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Port Charlotte, Fla.--Missed opportunities was the story of the day for the Auburn Tigers on Saturday as Coach Sunny Golloway's club fell to Ohio State 1-0 in game two of the Snowbird Classic.

Leaving nine runners on base and failing time and time again to bunt runners over into scoring position, Auburn failed to capitalize on a solid performance by senior pitcher Michael O'Neal in the loss.

Allowing just one run on four hits in six innings, O'Neal gave way to Trey Cochran-Gill to finish things in a hard-luck loss on the mound. Ohio State starter Ryan Riga earned the win for the Buckeyes (2-0), giving up just four hits and walking one in six innings of work. While Riga was good, Golloway said this one was a case of his team not getting the job done.

"Mistakes were made and we've got to correct those mistakes," Golloway said. "Most of the mistakes were made by freshmen. It's as mad as I have been in seven or eight years, I don't mind telling you that because I'm mad at myself. I've got to get this baseball team in better position to win. Nothing against Ohio State, but it's a ball game that disappoints me.

"It's a ball game we've got to win if we're going to be who we're going to be," the coach added. "If you don't beat people like that you're not going to play in the NCAA Tournament, it's just that simple. That one is going to hurt us in the RPI in the long run and our kids have to take responsibility, and our coaches do, for letting that one get away. We're going to be a little ticked off about it."

Michael O'Neal got the loss for the Tigers despite pitching well

Failing to get several bunts down throughout the game even with Ohio State keeping its third baseman back at the bag and making the pitcher field the line, Auburn couldn't take advantage of a game there for the taking. Golloway said it had as much to do with attitude as execution in his opinion.

"We've got to be a team that can handle prosperity," Golloway said. "If you were out there with us before the game you would have thought we were in a 15-game win streak. Our guys have to learn, we've got too much carryover from old habits. We've got to understand, and that falls back on me. I don't know if I should have taken them down the line and ran them to get their attention or what, but there was no intensity.

"When we got down 1-0 our dugout was quiet. You've got to believe you're going to come back and win. When you're quiet you don't believe, you're waiting for something to happen. When you're loud you're going to make something happen. Right now we're hoping and waiting for something to happen and that's not good baseball."

With the wind blowing in at the North Regional Park complex, both Auburn and Ohio State were scratching to get anything going offensively with a pair of left-handers dealing on the mound.

The Tigers had the first opportunity to score in the top of the third as true freshman right fielder Anfernee Grier led off with a single against Riga. Attempting to bunt the runner over, Damon Haecker pushed it right back to Riga on the mound. Rushing his throw to second, the Buckeye hurler threw wildly into center field for the error. That allowed Grier to advance to third to put runners on the corners with nobody out.

Back in the lineup for the second consecutive game because of a two-game suspension to Ryan Tella, freshman J.J. Shaffer just missed putting the Tigers on the board as he put a charge into a fastball down the left field line that just drifted into foul territory. Riga recovered to retire the center fielder on strikes for out number one. With senior Dan Glevenyak at the plate, Golloway put on a play, sending Haecker to second on a steal attempt. Breaking from third on the throw down, Grier was thrown out at the plate for out number two. A Glevenyak pop up brought the inning to a close with still no score.

Anfernee Grier is thrown out at the plate

Taking care of business the first three innings, O'Neal ran into some trouble of his own doing in the fourth. Walking the first two hitters, the senior gave up a single to Josh Dezse into left field to easily score the game's only run. Needing something positive, the senior got just that as he coaxed a ground ball directly to Damek Tomscha at third base. He stepped on the bag and threw across to Keegan Thompson for the easy double play. O'Neal got another ground ball to end the inning with the Buckeyes pushing across the first run.

In the fifth Auburn again threatened against Riga as freshman catcher Blake Logan singled with one out to bring Grier to the plate. A speedster, Grier hit a ground ball to short that the Ohio State fielder gloved but bobbled in his rush to get it out of the glove. Unable to find the handle, the error allowed Logan to slide into second safely and put a pair of runners on for Haecker. Trying to catch the Buckeyes sleeping, the freshman put down a bunt that Riga fielded and threw to third to cut down Logan. A Shaffer ground ball thwarted the Auburn rally, a continuing theme on this day.

Leaving two more runners on base in the sixth, Auburn appeared to be in a prime position to tie the game or take the lead in the seventh with Grier on first after reaching on a fielder's choice with one out.

A walk to Haecker once again put a pair on base with one out for Shaffer, the third time of the game for him. Attempting a bunt himself, Shaffer didn't get it down the line enough and Grier was thrown out at third for the second out. Looking for his first hit of the season, Glevenyak hit a dribbler just over the bag at second base. Shaffer easily beat the throw to second to load the bases with two outs for Thompson. With the wind blowing in he hit a lazy fly ball into left field to push Auburn's total left on base to nine for the day.

Ohio State reliever Trace Dempsey closed things with two scoreless innings for the Buckeyes to secure the win. Auburn finished the game with just five hits. Hitting .207 on the season the Tigers are still waiting for their first extra-base hit of the season.

The final game of the trip for Auburn will take place at 10 a.m. central time on Sunday when the Tigers take on Connecticut. Thompson will get his first career start on the mound.

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