> > Auburn's Damek Tomscha fields a ground ball at third in the fourth inning vs Vanderbilt on Saturday, March 16 in Auburn. - Anthony Hall
The No. 2 Commodores (18-2, 2-0) took the series in convincing fashion by dominating Auburn's offense again and pulling away late.
Commodore starter Tyler Beede (5-0) walked the leadoff Auburn batter in four of the first five innings and the Vandy staff allowed nine walks on the day, but once again carried a no-hitter into the seventh. Auburn got to the Dores’ bullpen late again but the four hits weren’t enough, especially with all the wasted chances early to score.
Auburn went scoreless and left five runners on the first five innings, despite an error and several pitches in the dirt from Beede. His catcher’s blocking skills, as well as four strikeouts, helped keep the Tigers from scoring.
Michael O’Neal (4-1) threw three perfect innings to start the game, stretching Auburn’s streak to 29 consecutive hitters retired. The first Vandy hit came in the fourth and they broke the scoreless deadlock in the fifth, snapping O’Neal’s 13 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching when Rhett Wiseman tripled home a run before scoring on a sac fly.
Coach John Pawlowski surprisingly pulled O’Neal after a leadoff walk in the seventh down 2-0 after just 65 pitches, saying after the game that although he didn’t think there was anything wrong with O’Neal’s outing or stamina, he felt the opposing batters had seen too much of him and were starting to anticipate too easily what was coming.
Conner Kendrick pitched spotty in relief for the first time this year and allowed O’Neal’s walked runner to score, as well as two runners of his own over an inning and a third to make it 5-0. Wiseman again had a RBI and Joel McKeithan, who had 3 RBI, scored on a Vince Conde bunt to the right side that Auburn couldn’t field. Conrad Gregor and Jack Lupo capped off Vandy’s scoring off of Chase Williamson with a three run ninth. After being shut down on Friday night, Vandy leadoff hitte rand second baseman Tony Kemp picked up a game high three hits.
Auburn didn’t score until two were down in the eighth on a bases loaded walk by Damek Tomscha, drew off reliever Carson Fulmer, to narrowly cut the deficit to 5-1. The Tigers would leave the bases loaded that inning after closer Brian Miller (6 saves) came in, and left an eleventh man stranded to close the game out with a dud.
Auburn’s four hits came from Patrick Savage, Cullen Wacker, Tomscha and Dan Glevenyak, who was hitting ninth after swapping with Jordan Ebert. Leadoff man Jackson Burgreen drew three of the nine walks.
The series finale is Sunday at 1 featuring righty Rocky McCord (2-0) for Auburn against lefty Philip Pfeifer (2-0).