March 1, 2014
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - On a day when Auburn's baseball team needed a spark, it came from a freshman. And that came as no surprise.
Keegan Thompson dazzled Presbyterian hitters, pitching Auburn's first one-hit shutout since 2002, as the Tigers beat Presbyterian 3-0 Saturday before a crowd of 3,414 at Plainsman Park. Thompson did not walk a batter and struck out five. He needed just 90 pitches.
Thompson, from Cullman, earned the second win of his college career and said he felt sharp from the start.
Auburn, breaking a two-game losing streak, improved to 5-5. Presbyterian fell to 5-4-1.
"We had a good plan going in with their hitters," Thompson said. "I missed a couple of times, but my defense picked me up."
After Auburn fell 10-6 in the first game of the series Friday night, Thompson was the right man in the right place.
"Keegan is a special young man," first-year Auburn head coach Sonny Golloway said. "I think that is pretty apparent. It was really a day about Keegan Thompson."
Pitching coach Scott Foxhall, in his sixth Auburn season, saw Thompson for the first time in the summer between Thompson's freshman and sophomore years in high school. Foxhall knew then that he was seeing a special talent.
"It looked just like that today, but the velocity wasn't quite there," Foxhall said. "You knew he could pitch. He could probably have pitched at this level in the ninth and 10th grade. You knew when he got stronger he was really going to be special, and that's what has happened.
"Keegan knew he could have gone out there and struck out 15 today, but that's not what he needed to do. He was really good."
Golloway made some major changes, particularly on defense. Senior Damek Tomscha moved from third to first. Freshman Damon Haecker moved from second base to shortstop and senior Dan Glevenyak from shortstop to second. Freshman Connor Short got his first start of the season at third base.
Tomscha, Golloway said, will get an opportunity to show he can pitch.
"I think it gives him a chance to play at the next level," Golloway said. He threw 92-94 in the bullpen. We will move him to first base and kind of protect his arm. We are throwing everything in the pot. We are boiling it, stirring it, doing everything we can."
They got a single run in the fourth and two in the sixth. They might have scored more, but they lost two runners to double plays and two others trying to steal third. Presbyterian pitchers gave up 10 hits, walked four and hit three batters. Auburn left 10 runners on base.
"We are going to have to clean up our baserunning," Golloway said. "There's no doubt about that. We just have to keep playing the game. That will cost you big-time, baserunning mistakes that shouldn't continue to plague us going into Game 11."
Auburn and Presbyterian will play the rubber game of the series Sunday at 1 p.m. Golloway said Trey Wingenter, who has pitched one inning this season, is scheduled to be the starter.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: