Auburn Runs Past Bears 9-5

Auburn defeated Mercer 9-5 in the series opener Friday night at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn got a solo homer from Damek Tomscha in the first and a two-run triple from Jordan Ebert in the second and never looked back on the way to a 9-5 victory over the Mercer Bears Friday night at Plainsman Park. Senior Dillon Ortman got the win to improve to 3-1 on the season, allowing two earned runs on six hits in seven and two/thirds innings.

Auburn improves to 7-6 on the season with the win and much of the credit goes to an offense that was much more aggressive in the win. Pounding out 12 hits with Ebert and Tomscha each collecting two, Coach Sunny Golloway said his team had a much better approach at the plate and the proof was in the pudding.

"One of the things we talked about yesterday, we practiced in the rain believe it or not, we worked on mental toughness and our approach at the plate," Golloway said. "The thing we're really down on is extra-base hits, slugging percentage, and driving guys in. It's something we really emphasized to our guys. We really tried to emphasize our approach at the plate, look for fastballs and hunt them and drive them."

Coming off a disappointing outing in a loss to Presbyterian last Friday night, Ortman was outstanding. Pitching seven scoreless innings before running out of gas in the eighth, he threw 108 pitches to pick up Auburn's seventh win of the season. While he would have liked to finish things off he said he's pleased with how he threw the ball and credited his offense to taking some of the pressure off.

"It was huge," Ortman said of the early run support. "It takes the pressure off and makes me relax and helps the whole team relax. They came out swinging tonight, and to help a pitcher out like that is just huge."

Auburn got the scoring started early on thanks to one swing of the bat from Tomscha. With two outs in the bottom of the first the senior jumped on the first pitch from Mercer starter Grant Papelian and didn't miss it. Getting a fastball on the inner half of the plate, Tomscha deposited it deep over the green monster in left field for his second home run of the season.

In the second the Tigers extended the lead as Blake Logan singled with one out and moved to second on an infield single by Keegan Thompson to bring Ebert to the plate. Struggling on the year, hitting just .214 coming into Friday night's game, Ebert blasted a triple into left-center to score two and make it 3-0 Auburn. Executing the short game perfectly, Anfernee Grier squeezed home Ebert on the next pitch to give Ortman a four-run advantage to work with.

Jordan Ebert scores one of his three runs on the night

Cruising on the mound, the senior from Huntsville kept the Bears off-balance and allowed his offense to break the game open in the middle innings. In the fifth Ebert was again at the center of things for the Tigers. Lacing a single to lead things off, he moved to second on the second sacrifice bunt of the game for Grier. Stealing third to move 90 feet closer to scoring, Ebert was able to jog home when Damon Haecker lifted a fly ball to right field for the sacrifice.

Auburn added another run in the sixth following a leadoff double by Blake Austin. Moving to third on a sacrifice bunt, Austin scored on a two-out single by Blake Logan. One inning later the Tigers tacked on three more to put the game out of reach. Collecting his third hit of the game, a single to left field, Ebert moved to third on a double off the bat of Grier. Following a strikeout, Tomscha's single to right field scored Ebert and put runners on the corners for Auburn.

A one-out single by Tomscha gave Auburn a seven-run advantage on the visiting Bears. Later in the inning Tella pushed across Grier on a groundout before Glevenyak finished off the scoring with a two-out single.

Leading 9-0, Ortman went back out in the eighth but ran out of steam as the Mercer offense finally got untracked. Scoring a pair of earned runs off the senior, the Bears loaded the bases on a single off reliever Trey Wingenter before lefty Daniel Koger walked in the third run of the inning. Facing pinch hitter Howard Joe with the bags packed, Koger struck him out to keep the Tigers in front 9-3. In the ninth Chesny Young touched Koger for a two-run homer to put the final two runs on the board for Mercer.

Auburn will send freshman Keegan Thompson to the mound looking to win the series on Saturday. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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