Feb. 22, 2014
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn’s baseball team sputtered, staggered and fell Saturday night in the Tiger Classic at Plainsman Park. Thirteen baserunners translated into no runs, and California handed the Tigers a 5-0 loss.
The Tigers fell to 3-3 for the season and were shut out for the second time this season. They have scored 16 runs in six games, and seven of those came against UConn last Sunday.
When it was over, first-year head coach Sunny Golloway promised change was coming.
“Let’s get some new blood in there and guys that don’t have bad habits or losing ways,” Golloway said. “Let’s try to get some winning ways going and some good karma going. It’s getting ready to be shook up. I’ve tried to shake it before, but expect an earthquake tonight.”
Golloway made no attempt to hide his disgust for what he saw. He didn’t like the way older players responded in at-bats with runners on base. He didn’t like the way they acted in the dugout. He didn’t like much of anything. And he promised major changes for Sunday’s game against East Tennessee State.
“We had several returning guys hit deep flyballs and come to the dugout,” Golloway said. “I’m seeing them smiling in the dugout down 4-0 or 5-0. I’ve never seen that. I’ve never allowed it. I’ve never seen it. I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone. When we try to get on them and explain that’s not winning baseball, they look at us like we have three heads.”
Golloway took over pitch-calling duties in Friday night’s game and continued to call the pitches Saturday night. It went well Friday night, not so well Saturday night.
“Our lack of offense has put a tremendous amount of pressure on our pitching staff and then our pitching staff out of the bullpen has absolutely crumbled,” Golloway said. “Our starting pitching has been pretty good.”
Golloway, who moved from Oklahoma last June, talked frequently about his high expectations for his first Auburn team. Anything less than a trip to Omaha for the College World Series, he said, would be disappointing. But through six games, the Tigers have struggled to score runs.
“Ultimately, we’ll win the battle,” Golloway said. “I don’t want it to take all year. If we have to minimize our roster, we’ll do that. If we have to minimize who is suiting up, we’ll do that. Tomorrow, we will come out and make some pretty drastic changes in our lineup.”
Freshman outfielder J.J.Shaffer and freshman catcher Blake Logan are among the players who could be in the lineup, Golloway said. He praised senior catcher Blake Austin and senior shortstop Dan Glevenyak. He said Austin could play third base, which he did in Friday’s 2-1 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
“We are going to make some tremendous changes,” Golloway said. “I’m not going to hide. We are going to change. Right now, I’m not proud of what we are and not proud of the way we are doing it. We are going to start being proud every day that we play.”
Senior Michael O’Neal gave up one hit through five innings but ran into trouble in the sixth and took his second loss. His teammates have yet to score a run when he is pitching. Jacob Millman, Reid Carter, Daniel Koger and Trey Wingenter finished.
Auburn, hitting .201 as a team, had seven hits against the Bears. Three runners were wiped out on the basepaths – two on doubles and one on a play at the plate. Ten were left stranded.
First inning: Runners on first and second with one out. Damek Tomscha flies out, Blake Austin walks to load the bases and Keegan Thompson flies out.
Bottom of second: With one out, Patrick Savage reaches on an error and Damon Haecker is hit by a pitch. With the hit and run on, Grier hits a sizzling line drive that is caught by right fielder Derek Campbell. Savage, moving on the pitch, has no chance to get back and is doubled off second for the third out.
Third inning: Dan Glevenyak leads off with a double over the left fielder’s head. Ryan Tella strikes out, Tomscha lines out to right, Austin hit by pitch, Thompson singles hard to left and Glevenyak is easily thrown out at home.
Bottom of fifth: Grier leads off with a double to right-center. Glevenyak grounds out to second, advancing Grier to third. Tella strikes out swinging. Tomscha takes a called third strike.
Bottom of seventh: With one out, Damon Haecker reaches on single and Grier reaches on an error. Glevenyak grounds out to second, moving runners to second and third. Tella flies out to center.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: