AUBURN, Ala. - Michael O'Neal held Maine to just three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings as the Auburn baseball team completed a doubleheader sweep on Saturday with a 4-3 win in the second game. The win improved Auburn to 3-0.
"One of the things we talked about was focus and concentration; stay locked-in all 18 innings," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "After the first game the concentration could have wavered. We scored a lot of runs with a lot of two-out hits and our guys really buckled down. It was a close game. That game wasn't over until the last pitch."
"It was a really exciting atmosphere," O'Neal said. "I can pitch a lot better. I didn't hit my spots but I got outs like I should and I got quick outs. I was very efficient with my pitches. I was trying to get into the sixth inning. I didn't finish it so I still have stuff to work on for my next outing."
O'Neal, a junior college transfer making his first appearance, retired the first six hitters he faced before surrendering a single run in the third on a Colin Gay RBI single. Auburn would answer Maine's run with a three-run bottom of the third, marking the third time in as many games that Auburn would come from behind on Maine (0-3).
Ryan Tella, who was 1-for-3, drove in two runs with a third-inning triple and then scored on a Garrett Cooper RBI groundout to put Auburn ahead, 3-1.
A Tanner Cimo sac fly in the fourth scored Sam Gillikin, who had walked earlier in the inning, to stretch Auburn's lead to 4-1.
Maine clawed back in the sixth with a pair of runs off of O'Neal, capitalizing on the pitcher's throwing error, to make it a one-run game but Auburn's bullpen trio of Jay Wade (1 1/3 innings), Conner Kendrick (one inning) and Terrance Dedrick (one inning) limited Maine to just two hits while striking out five to close out the game.
Dedrick, who earned the win in the season-opener on Friday, got the final three outs, striking out the first and last hitter he faced to pick up the save.
Maine's A.J. Bazdanes (0-1) took the loss, allowing all four of Auburn's runs in five innings on five hits and three walks while striking out one.
Auburn won the first game of the doubleheader, 12-3.
Auburn, which has now begun a season 3-0 for the 24th time since 1949, will look to go to 4-0 for just the 17th time in that same time frame when it goes for the four-game series sweep on Sunday. Dillon Ortman will get the starting nod on the mound for Auburn while Maine will start Mike Connolly. First pitch is set for 11am at Plainsman Park.