Facing Missouri's top starting pitcher and the prospect of a disastrous sweep at the hands of the SEC's worst team, Auburn finally woke up. The Tigers put up 16 hits and came away with a 7-3 victory Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
Defensive issues cropped up again -- Auburn committed three errors -- but the approach and execution at the plate was much better compared to the first two games of the series. After falling behind 2-1, the Tigers (19-10, 5-4 SEC) took control in the middle innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Blake Austin, Daniel Robert and Keegan Thompson combined for three straight singles to tie the game. After a Sam Gillikin ground out moved Thompson and Robert to second and third, J.J. Shaffer drove in Robert with a base hit to right. Damon Haecker followed that up with a single to short stop, putting Auburn up 4-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers gave themselves breathing room with three more runs. Shaffer led off with a triple and came home two batters later on a one-out single from Jordan Ebert. With two outs, Damek Tomscha singled to left, and a stolen base put two runners in scoring position. Austin came through with another single to right, driving in two and making it 7-2.
Six Tigers compiled multiple hits with Austin (3-for-4, one run, three RBI) leading the way. Ryan Tella was 3-for-5, and Shaffer (one run, one RBI) and Robert (one run) were both 2-for-4. Ebert (two runs, one RBI) and Tomscha (one run, one RBI) were 2-for-5.
Michael O'Neal (2-2) picked up the win in his return to the weekend rotation, going five inning and allowing two runs -- one earned -- on eight hits and a walk. O'Neal struck out one. Jay Wade was excellent out of the bullpen and earned a four-inning save. Wade gave up one hit and one unearned run while striking out three. He came on with the score still 4-2 in the sixth, needing to work out of a two-on, no-outs jam, and he got out of it with two Ks and a foul out.
Brett Graves (3-2) took the loss for Mizzou (13-13, 3-6). In his worst outing of the year, Graves allowed six runs on 13 hits and one walk in 5 2/3 innings, and he struck out three.
Auburn returns to action Tuesday night at home against Samford. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.