AUBURN, Ala. - Damek Tomscha belted the fifth pitch he saw in the bottom of the ninth inning over the wall in left, sending the Auburn baseball team to a 3-2, walk-off win over Maine in the 2013 season opener for both teams.
"That was pretty special," Tomscha said. "He threw me a high and inside fastball and I got a good swing on it."
Tomscha, a junior appearing in his first game at Auburn after transferring from Iowa Western Community College, worked a 3-1 count off of Maine reliever Shaun Coughlin (0-1) in the ninth before blasting it down the line and over the 30-foot high wall. The home run was Auburn's fourth extra-base hit of the afternoon off of the Maine pitching staff as Auburn collected nine hits, three of which were doubles.
"What a hard-fought game," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "Maine played extremely well, they pitched well, but we had some good fortune today. Sam Gillikin went up at the wall and made a tremendous, athletic play. We turned a couple of double plays. Damek, what can you say. We really tried to shore up our defense and lo-and-behold he gets a ball up in the zone and he hits a big home run for us."
Terrance Dedrick (1-0) earned the win out of the Auburn bullpen, striking out the only hitter he faced after entering with the potential tying run on second with two outs in the top of the ninth.
Hitting leadoff in his collegiate debut, true freshman Jackson Burgreen was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and he scored on a Garrett Cooper sixth inning double to tie it at 1-1. Cooper finished 1-for-4 with the double and also scored in the sixth on a Tomscha single to left that temporarily gave Auburn a 2-1 lead.
"Coach (Gabe) Gross told us, `You can be a freshman in the dugout before the game but when you step in between the lines you can't be a freshman any more. You have to forget about everything and act like you know what you are doing,'" Burgreen said.
Getting the start in right, Gillikin made the defensive play of the game to end the fifth, robbing Maine's Scott Heath of a three-run home run by bringing one back from over the wall that would have given Maine a 4-0 lead at the time.
Auburn's bullpen combined to throw four innings behind starter Daniel Koger (5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K), allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out four.
Conner Kendrick logged two of the Auburn bullpen innings, holding Maine off the board before turning things over to Dedrick for the final out.
Maine starter Tommy Lawrence threw seven complete innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out four.
Coughlin allowed the one run in an inning-plus of work.
Maine took a 1-0 lead in the second, capitalizing on an Auburn defensive error and then tied it at 2-2 in the seventh when Sam Balzano doubled and scored with one out in the inning.
Auburn's defense turned a pair of inning-ending double plays, turning two in the first and fourth innings.
The two teams return to the field at noon on Saturday for a doubleheader. Both games are scheduled to be nine-inning games.