Juggling his lineup for much of the season trying to find the right formula, Coach Sunny Golloway said he was excited about the way his team swung the bat on Sunday. Scoring runs in each of the first seven innings, the Tigers kept constant pressure on the Blue Hose to get the win and improve to 6-5 on the season.
"We bought into it in the fall, and that is what was so baffling to me early in the year is that we just ran away from that philosophy," Golloway said of his offensive style. "I think we understand, through some of the pain of losing, that we've got to do things the way we know how to do them. We've got to play our style of baseball, and today was very much our style. There is not one huge inning up there, but chipping away and scoring and putting pressure on them each inning."
On the mound Auburn struggled with consistency other than from Wade. Getting the start, Trey Wingenter allowed a run on three hits in just two/thirds of an inning. Coming out of the bullpen for the first time in his career, Michael O'Neal was off from the outset as he allowed four runs on seven hits in three innings of work.
Jay Wade earned the win on the mound for the Tigers
Wade was a different story. Used mostly in mop-up duty in his career, Wade allowed just two hits in four and one/third innings of work. Striking out two and not walking a batter on just 46 pitches, Golloway said Wade was a good matchup against Presbyterian and he liked what he saw from the veteran.
"He was terrific," Golloway said of Wade. "He really fit their lineup well, too. Being a slider guy and a fastball command away guy, he really fit them well. We knew that he would. I don't think O'Neal fit their club very well. It's just a matchup thing coming from the left side."
Not performing well out of the pen, Golloway said he's going to look at putting O'Neal back in the starting rotation moving forward because of the way he has pitched as a starter in his career.
Wingenter got the start for Auburn on Sunday, but didn't make it out of the first inning as Presbyterian got its offense started right away. A leadoff single from Brandon Martin and a sacrifice bunt brought red hot Brad Zebedis to the plate and he continue his weekend tear with a single to center field to put runners on the corners.
The third hit of the inning, a single by Cam McRae, and a hit batter brought Wingenter's day to a short end as O'Neal came on to record the final out of the inning with the Blue Hose leading 1-0.
It didn't take long for Auburn to answer back in the bottom of the first thanks to production from the top of the order. Walking to lead off, Damon Haecker moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Grier to bring Dan Glevenyak to the plate. Another walk and a Blake Austin strikeout meant it was up to Tomscha to get the job done. Getting a pitch to drive, Tomscha hit a rocket to left field that bounced off the top of the green monster and over the wall for Auburn's first home run of the season.
Tomscha blasts Auburn's first home run of the season
Up by a pair of runs In the bottom of the second, the Tigers pushed the lead to three on a Grier single to score Tella from second. Both teams added single runs in the third inning before O'Neal ran into trouble in the fourth.
With two outs and a runner on first, O'Neal allowed a single from Zebedis to bring McRae to the plate looking for a two-out hit. Inexplicably the Tigers tried to throw behind Zebedis at first with O'Neal's throw sailing wide of Keegan Thompson and down the right field line. The error allowed a run to score, but that was just the start as a double and single compounded the mistake. By the time the dust settled Auburn's lead was gone as the Tigers came to the plate tied 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Getting a one-out double from Glevenyak with Grier on first, Auburn had two runners in scoring position before a walk by Presbyterian pitcher Ethan Wortkoetter pushed across Grier to put the Tigers back in front. Another hit by Tomscha quickly made it 7-5 Auburn.
With Wade cruising on the mound the offense got back to work with two more runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to make it a six-run advantage. Another single run in the seventh put the Tigers in command 12-5. Trey Cochran-Gill finished off the game in the ninth to give Auburn the series victory.
The Tigers return to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they travel to Montgomery to face Alabama in the Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium.