Auburn, Ala.--On a cold Sunday afternoon it was Auburn freshman pitcher Davis Daniel that provided the heat as he allowed just three hits and struck out a career high eight batters in six innings to earn his first career win as the Tigers beat Presbyterian 8-0 to win the series.
At the plate the Tigers were led by freshman Conor Davis with two hits while leadoff man Jonah Todd had a hit, walked three times and scored a run. Only managing seven hits, Auburn (12-5) was helped by five Presbyterian errors on a day when Coach Butch Thompson said it was all about the pitching of Daniel.
Getting the freshman back on the mound on Wednesday for two innings in a start against Kennesaw State just to get him more experience as a starter, Daniel’s week is just what the doctor ordered said Thompson.
“I just thought he had a great week,” Thompson said. “I thought the two innings on Wednesday and definitely the start today was the best collection of innings he’s thrown. It’s just good to see him kind of head in the direction of progress and it be so positive for him.”
Struggling to get deep into games so far this season, Daniel got the job done on Sunday and it couldn’t have come at a better time for him and the Tigers with conference play opening next weekend.
“Last Sunday was a bit of a struggle,” Daniel said. “To get back out there on Wednesday and start against Kennesaw State and get back the feeling and get my confidence going and throw everything with more conviction felt good. Feeding off that today, it felt really good. A lot of confidence and good stuff going into SEC play.”
Early on Auburn’s offense struggled to get anything going but that didn’t keep the Tigers from getting on the board thanks to plenty of help from Presbyterian. In the first Jonah Todd walked, one of his four times on base for the game. Moving to second on a wild pitch, the junior scored when third baseman Glen Casaceli booted a Dylan Ingram ground ball.
In the third the Tigers would add a second run on another Presbyterian error. With two outs Daniel Robert singled and stole second to move into scoring position. With Ingram at the plate Presbyterian shortstop Cletis Avery couldn’t make the play, allowing Robert to score for a 2-0 lead. The lead went to three in the fourth inning when Josh Anthony walked with the bases loaded to force home a run.
With Daniel cruising on the mound, Auburn broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth to put the Blue Hose away. A Blake Logan walk with two outs got the Tigers started and Conor Davis singled to move him into scoring position.
Needing some clutch hits, Auburn got just that as Bowen McGuffin, Will Holland and Todd all singled to give the Tigers a commanding six-run advantage. Finishing off the scoring in the eighth with two more runs, Auburn turned it over to the bullpen to finish things off as Calvin Coker and Daniel Sprinkle pitched three scoreless innings to secure the sixth shutout of the season for the Tigers.
It took some good fortune to keep things scoreless in the ninth however. With two outs and nobody on Jack McLaughlin doubled off the wall in left field to bring Guy Casaceli to the plate. Smashing a ball off Sprinkle’s foot, it looked like the Blue Hose would get on the board but Holland slid to his right at short and grabbed the infield single. Coming up throwing, he gunned down McLaughlin at the plate to end the game.
Auburn returns to action on Tuesday at 3 p.m. when the Tigers host UAB at Plainsman Park.