Getting off to a good start in conference play was something that Golloway preached all week leading up to the series against Texas A&M. Even though the Tigers (13-7, 2-1) couldn't finish off the sweep, he said overall he's proud of the way his team played and in particular the pitching from starters Thompson and Dillon Ortman. Hoping to get a sweep, he said this team now has to learn to finish things off moving forward.
"I won't be too hard on the guys about the second game because you win the series and you understand and feel good about winning your opening series, then you've got to turn around and play," Golloway said. "I wish we had time to wash that win (in game one). I told them yesterday that they had about an hour and a half to enjoy the win and then wash it. I told them after the first game they had 15 minutes to wash it. Clearly we need more time to wash a win than that."
Making his first career SEC start, Thompson controlled the action, allowing just four hits and two runs and striking out 10 to get his fourth win of the season. Returning the favor in game two for the Aggies (14-7, 1-2), Long was even better. Entering the game with a 1-0 record and an ERA of 0.35, the big right-hander pitched eight shutout innings and struck out seven to get the victory. Golloway said Saturday was simply a case of good pitching beating good hitting.
"He pitched really well," Golloway said of Thompson. "He pitched a lot like Dillon. He saw what Dillon did and just matched up. I thought we got away from his fastball a little bit there in the fourth or fifth inning, but we went back to it. That's what allowed him to really finish strong. He's just a big, strong kid and was still running it up there pretty good late in the game. He had fastball command and that was the key for him.
"You've got to give Long and lot of credit and you've got to give Rob Childress a lot of credit," he added of the second game. "He's been there a long time and we've matched up many times. At the end we exchanged and we like each other's teams. He said ‘you've got them playing the way you like'. He's seen a lot of Oklahoma teams play. I thought Long had a lot to do with our lack of aggressiveness there late."
For the second consecutive day it was the Auburn offense that got off to a good start in game one as Dan Glevenyak singled with one out in the first to bring Tomscha to the plate. Getting a pitch to drive, the senior continued his hot streak by launching a double off the monster in left field to drive in Glevenyak and put the Tigers on the board. Following a Ryan Tella strikeout and Blake Austin getting hit by a pitch, Daniel Robert singled home Tomscha to give Thompson a two-run lead to work with.
That's how things would stand until the fifth when Texas A&M finally put some pressure on the freshman from Cullman. Leading off the inning, Logan Nottebrok singled and moved to second on a single from catcher Blake Nau. Thompson got a ground ball to second, but it wasn't hard enough to turn the double play. Getting the force at second, the Tigers faced a first and third situation with one out.
Losing control momentarily, Thompson walked Logan Taylor to load the bases and then hit number nine hitter Jace Statum with a pitch to force home a run. Pinch hitter Jonathan Moroney followed with a sacrifice fly to center field that easily scored Banks to tie the game at two. That would be it for the Aggies on this day however as Thompson put the clamps on their bats the rest of the way.
Now tied 2-2, Auburn got a two-out single from Tella to start the fifth and when Austin singled on a hit and run to move him to third the Tigers were in business once again. With a left-hander coming on for the Aggies out of the bullpen, Auburn turned to freshman Blake Logan and he delivered with a single through the left side. The hit scored Tella from third to put the Tigers back in front.
Auburn then broke the game open in the seventh with a single by Tomscha with one out and a bunt single from Tella to put a pair on base for the bottom of the Tigers' order. Getting a pitch to drive, Austin roped a ball to left field that was tracked down by Moroney for the second out of the inning. At third base with Thompson on the mound, freshman Connor Short came up with a huge two-out hit as his single scored both Tomscha and Tella to make it 5-2 Auburn.
Jordan Ebert had a huge week for the Tigers
That's all Thompson would need as he slammed the door on the Aggies the rest of the way for his fourth win of the season. He said it was huge to back up what Ortman did on Friday night and get his first career SEC victory.
"It was pretty nice," Ortman said. "I got in a little trouble in the fifth inning, but I settled down and went back to throwing fastballs more and working off the breaking ball. We got a couple of hits after they scored a few runs and took the momentum back in our favor. It just worked out for us."
At the plate Ebert, Tomscha, Tella, Austin, Robert, and Logan all had two hits for the Tigers. Robert and Logan combined to go 4-4 out of the designated hitter spot for Auburn as they took the series win.
Game two was a different story for the Tigers even though they had an opportunity to jump on top in the first once again against Texas A&M starter Grayson Long. With one out Glevenyak singled to bring Tomscha to the plate. Getting ahead in the count, the Tigers put on the hit-and-run with Tomscha scorching a single to left field. Never slowing down at second, Glevenyak was thrown out at third for the second out. It proved to be huge as Tella followed with a single before a Logan groundout brought the threat to an end. On Logan's groundout, Tomscha appeared to grab his hamstring and was replaced by Thompson at first to start the second inning.
"He rounded second and said he kind of felt a little tweak, and it's not even in his hamstring," a relieved Golloway said. "He's going to be fine, that's the good news. In the middle of the game with everything going so fast we didn't have a chance to evaluate things. We had to be careful."
Starting the game for the Tigers on the mound, Justin Camp pitched two scoreless innings to start before running into trouble in the third. Taylor led off with a double and a bunt from Statum following that Camp bobbled on the mound for an error. With a runner on third Blake Allemand's sacrifice fly made it 1-0 Aggies. In the fourth they added a second run with a pair of hits and a passed ball doing the damage.
With Long dominating the Tigers on the mound, the Aggies came back for more in the sixth. Struggling after throwing 90 pitches on Tuesday night, Camp gave up a double to Cole Lankford to lead things off before coming back to get Stein with a strikeout. Moroney followed with a single to put runners on the corners with one out and bring Michael O'Neal in out of the bullpen. Playing small-ball to perfection, the Aggies got a squeeze bunt for a single and a second squeeze to score two and make it 4-0.
Texas A&M tacked on two more runs in the seventh and three in the ninth off Trey-Cochran Gill and Auburn couldn't get anything going against Long as the Aggies salvaged the third game with a 9-0 victory in game two on Saturday.
Tiger Ticket Extra
Freshman outfielder Anfernee Grier missed the series with Texas A&M with a hand injury described as a "Boxer's Fracture" by Golloway. While it's not an injury that would get worse with playing, he added that they were told 10 days minimum for his return with two weeks the likely outcome. That means he could be available this weekend when the Tigers travel to Tennessee.