March 7, 2014
AUBURN, Ala. - Jordan Ebert went 3-for-3 and scored three times, and a strong outing on the mound from Dillon Ortman led Auburn baseball to a 9-5 victory over Mercer on Friday night at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers (7-6) got half their offensive production from the bottom of the lineup, as six of Auburn's 12 hits came from the seventh through ninth spots in the order. Mercer (12-3) tried to rally late, scoring five times in the last two innings, but found itself in a hole too deep.
"We worked on mental toughness (in practice Thursday)," Auburn head coach Sunny Golloway said. "And we also worked on our approach at the plate. If you look at our numbers, we're somewhere in the middle of the pack in batting average. But the thing we're really down on is extra-base hits, slugging percentage, RBIs, driving people in. So it's something we really emphasized to our guys. We really tried to simplify our approach at the plate. Look for fastballs, drive them. Our guys did a really good job of getting in the box with an attitude of driving the ball tonight."
Ebert, hitting in the nine-spot, had a two-RBI triple along with a pair of singles, and he scored all three times he reached base. Freshman Blake Logan was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored batting in the seventh spot, and Keegan Thompson had a hit and an RBI in two at-bats from the eight spot in the order.
The middle of the order wasn't bad, either. Dan Glevenyak had a 2-for-4 night with an RBI, and Damek Tomscha homered for the second time in three games, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
"(Ebert) is starting to come on," Golloway said. "Some of our older guys are starting to come on. Tomscha is starting to swing the bat. Blake Austin is going to swing it at some point, he drove the ball down the line with two walks. Glevenyak has been swinging it really well. So our veteran guys are really swinging the bat pretty well, and our young guys are going to learn from that and get better."
Ortman (3-1) bounced back from a tough outing last week against Presbyterian, taking a shutout into the seventh inning before "running out of gas," he said. With plenty of run support, he left with a 9-2 lead after pitching 7 2/3 innings and scattering six hits while striking out six.
"I felt good," Ortman said. "We had a system of throwing everything away and making them hit my pitch, and we made that happen tonight. (Getting run support) was huge. It took the pressure off, let me relax, let the whole team relax. They came out swinging tonight, and to help a pitcher out like that was huge."
Tomscha's blast - a shot over the left-field monster that was absolutely crushed - gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with two out in the first. Auburn would then tack on three more in the second. Ebert's triple to the wall in left-center brought around Thompson and Logan to make it a 3-0 game, and Ebert would make it 4-0 on a suicide squeeze one pitch later as Anfernee Grier put down a perfect bunt.
The Tigers manufactured another run in the fifth when Ebert singled, took second on a Grier sacrifice, stole third and scored on a Damon Haecker sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. It would be 6-0 after six innings when an RBI single from Logan brought home Blake Austin, who had doubled to lead off the inning.
Eight men came to the plate for Auburn in the seventh, leading to three more runs. A one-out RBI single from Tomscha brought home Ebert, who singled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a double by Grier. After Austin was hit by the next pitch, Ryan Tella would ground into a fielder's choice, scoring Grier to make it 8-0. Glevenyak would then bring home the final Auburn run with a two-out, RBI single to left, scoring Tomscha from third to give the Tigers a 9-0 lead.
Mercer would get to Ortman in the seventh, sending nine hitters to the plate and plating three runs to cut the Auburn lead to 9-3. The Bears would leave the bases loaded, however, as reliever Daniel Koger got a big strikeout to get out of the jam after he had walked in the Bears' third run.
A one-out, two-run homer by Mercer's Chesny Young made it 9-5 in the ninth, but the Bears were unable to mount any further rally.
Young led Mercer with a 2-for-5 night, including a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. Derrick Workman was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Game two of the weekend series with Mercer is slated for a 3 p.m. first pitch Saturday at Plainsman Park. Auburn will send freshman right-hander Keegan Thompson (2-0, 0.39) to the mound, while Mercer has yet to announce their starting pitcher.