AUBURN – Left-hander Michael O’Neal didn’t feel particularly good before Saturday’s start against Brown. There was nothing to indicate a memorable performance was ahead.
Michael O'Neal gave up six hits in shutting out Brown/Lauren Barnard
“I thought I’d messed up a little. In the second inning,” O’Neal said. “My back was hurting a little bit. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have a very good bullpen before the game. I didn’t have any idea where the ball was going.”
But things couldn’t have turned out much better.
O’Neal, a transfer from Chattahoochee Valley Community College, pitched a complete-game six-hitter as Auburn beat Brown 6-0. It was the first complete-game shutout by an Auburn pitcher since Derek Varnadore beat Georgia 3-0 on May 7, 2011.
Auburn improved to 11-3 on the season, clinching the three-game series against Brown.
“Pretty awesome,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal had a no-hitter working through four innings. He took a three-hitter into the ninth, when Brown loaded the bases on three two-out singles. Auburn head coach John Pawlowski went to the mound to see if his pitcher had enough to finish.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not coming out of the game.’” O’Neal said. “It was pretty awesome.”
That was just what Pawlowski wanted to hear, and O’Neal got pinch-hitter Sean Gannon to fly out to right field to end the game.
“I went out there to check on him,” Pawlowski said. “I thought his stuff was still very good. He convinced me, so I let him finish it. I was happy for him.”
O’Neal struck out two, walked six and threw 115 pitches in running his record to 4-0. His ERA for the season is 1.40.
Before O’Neal went the distance, the longest an Auburn starter had gone was seven innings.
The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning on Jackson Burgreen’s double, Dan Glevenyak’s run-scoring single, Damek Tomscha’s RBI groundout and Cullen Wacker’s sacrifice fly. They got another run in the fifth on Garrett Cooper’s run-scoring single and two in the seventh on an RBI double by Tomscha and Cooper’s RBI single.
Freshman Auburn second baseman Jordan Ebert extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Tomscha has reached base safely in every Auburn game this season.
Brown starter Dave St. Lawrence gave up 10 hits and all six runs, five of them earned, in seven innings on the mound. He took the loss in his first decision of the season.
Pawlowski said sophomore Rocky McCord will get the start today as the Tigers seek to sweep the series. They won 9-4 on Friday night.