Thompson And Tigers Take Down Huskies

Auburn defeated UConn 7-3 on Sunday to improve to 2-1 on the young baseball season as freshman Keegan Thompson earned his first college win on the mound.

Port Charlotte, Fla.--Freshman pitcher Keegan Thompson allowed just one run on two hits and struck out nine in his first collegiate start and senior Damek Tomscha added two hits and three RBI as the Auburn Tigers defeated the Connecticut Huskies 7-3 in the final game of the Snowbird Classic.

"We let some opportunities get away and we understand that, but it's early in the season," Coach Sunny Golloway said. "I thought our guys did a good job. We kind of stepped on the gas early trying to steal some bases and do some things today to give us more opportunities, and that worked out. You just have to put the ball in play sometimes and that's what we were able to do."

Sitting out the first two games of the weekend for disciplinary reasons, senior Ryan Tella returned to the lineup and came through with two hits and two stolen bases hitting in the number three spot for the Tigers. Excited about the way the team responded following a rough game offensively in a loss to Ohio State, Tella said the key is continuing to give themselves opportunities because he is confident the bats will come through.

"It's huge for us, especially dropping the one yesterday," Tella said of his team's victory. "That's our goal is just to win the series and if the sweep comes we'll take it. We just have to go out there and give it everything we've got.

"If felt good to get back out there," he added. "I don't ever want to do that again. If felt good to be back between the lines with the guys I have played with for a while, even the new guys. They have done such a good job. Keegan threw lights out today and Damon Haecker and Anfernee Grier, all of them."

On the mound Thompson was one of four Auburn pitchers that held the Huskies to just six hits and three runs. Finishing with nine strikeouts and throwing 96 pitches, Thompson said it was good to get on the hill again and pitch well.

"I felt good," Thompson said. "I felt like it has been way too long since I have been out there. I threw strikes and got some guys to make contact. The defense played well and I got a couple of strikeouts. I just felt good."

Following a very frustrating day in a 1-0 loss when the Tigers left nine runners on base and time and time again had scoring opportunities, Auburn had deja vu to start the game on Sunday. Loading the bases in the first inning and failing to score, Auburn got a pair of runners on in the second as well to no avail, but saw the offense finally break out in the third.

With one out Tella came to the plate and reached on an infield single, his second hit in two at-bats. He quickly followed that with his second stolen base of the game to move into scoring position for Thompson.

A strikeout victim his first time up, Thompson hit a slow roller to short that forced a wild throw from the UConn fielder. The error put runners on first and third for freshman Daniel Robert. Doing a good job of hitting, the first baseman battled to a full count before slicing a ground ball to the left side of the infield. Off and running on the play, Tella slid in safely for the first run of the game for the Tigers.

Coming to the plate looking to keep the momentum going, senior Damek Tomscha pushed a single into right field with Robert off and running from first base. The base hit easily scored Thompson for the 2-0 Auburn advantage with Jordan Ebert coming to the plate.

Seeing a situation to tack on another run, Golloway called for a squeeze bunt and the sophomore delivered to score Robert from third. A single from Blake Austin finished the scoring in the inning as Tomscha scrambled home from second.

Staked to a four-run lead, Thompson pitched a scoreless fourth before running into the first real trouble of the day in the fifth inning. Striking out the first batter of the frame for his seventh of the game, the Auburn starter left a pitch over the plate that Bryan Daniello scorched into the right field corner for a double and the first hit of the game for the Huskies.

A wild pitch moved the runner to third for Griffin Garabedian and his infield single to the right side scored Daniello to put the Huskies on the board. A walk put the pressure on the freshman, but he came back to strike out the next two UConn hitters to end the threat and keep the lead at three.

Ryan Tella

Carter came on to replace Thompson with two outs in the sixth, but UConn greeted him rudely with a bloop double off the bat of Nico Darras to bring Davey to the plate. Just missing on a two-strike pitch off the corner that would have ended the inning, Carter got a ground ball back up the middle that was too deep in the hole for Dan Glevenyak to make a play on. That allowed Darras to score to make it 4-2 Auburn.

Needing to get the momentum back, the Tigers went to work in the bottom of the inning and tacked on a pair of big runs. With one out the Huskies walked Glevenyak and Tella to give the Auburn offense some life. Still in the lineup as the designated hitter, Thompson hit a chopper that handcuffed the UConn third baseman for an error to load the bases. Following a popup by Robert for the second out, Tomscha again came through for the Tigers with a single. His second and third runs batted in for the game made it a 6-2 Auburn lead.

The Tigers tacked on a run in the seventh inng to make it a five-run advantage and turned things over to Daniel Koger to start the eighth inning. Allowing the first two UConn hitters to reach, Koger got a key double play before Dedrick came on to finish the game. Entering with a runner on third, the senior closer gave up a single to Darras to score a run ,but a strikeout brought the inning to a close with Auburn holding a commanding 7-3 advantage. He finished with a scoreless ninth to send the Tigers home victorious.

Auburn will return to action Wednesday at 3 p.m. when the Tigers take on Alabama State in the home opener at Plainsman Park.

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