Jackson Burgreen hits home run for Auburn vs Eastern Illinois Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Auburn AL - Lauren Barnard
Auburn got to Panthers' ace Joe Greenfield early and often and used a huge eighth to finish off the 14-7 win.
As the blinding snow whipped mercilessly around the Friendliest Confines in the South, the Tigers sent 2-0 starter Michael O'Neal to the mound to face off against reigning Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week Joe Greenfield. Both teams struck early, with a Damek Tomscha error helping to hand the first run of the game to EIU, and Auburn getting two off of Greenfield in the first thanks to an error, a balk, a hit batter, Cullen Wacker's double and two walks, one with the bases loaded.
Auburn scored three in the third thanks to a Wacker triple and RBIs from Garrett Cooper and catcher Kyle Ortman to push the lead to 5-1. Auburn extended the lead to 8-1 in the fourth, an inning that was highlighted by a lead-off homer from Jackson Burgreen.
In the fifth, O'Neal began to show signs of fatigue. He issued two walks and allowed two singles. To make matters worse, Jordan Ebert committed an error that led to three runs for the Panthers. Ebert followed that up with a caught stealing in the bottom half of the inning.
O'Neal made way in the sixth for Justin Camp. Camp was hit pretty well by EIU, as the Panthers managed to score three runs before Tigers' coach John Pawlowski put in Conner Kendrick. Kendrick got out of a big jam in the top of the seventh and ended up earning the save, his second, going three innings and getting four Ks.
Auburn would go on to blow the game open in the bottom of the eighth, putting six more runs on the board and taking a comfortable lead into the ninth.
The Tigers will try to win the series Sunday at 1 p.m. with Rocky McCord getting the start.