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Long balls lift Tigers

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Auburn hit three home runs in the third inning and was never threatened Saturday in beating No. 18 Texas A&M 10-5 at Blue Bell Field. The victory gave the Tigers, 6-4 winners Friday night, their first Southeastern Conference series win of the season.

Blake Austin hit a two-run homer in the third inning.

“It’s good to win this game today, obviously for a lot of reasons,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “The main reason is the confidence continues to build. There is a little change in the air, so-to-speak, going on around our ball club right now. What we did offensively was a tremendous sign. We got some balls up in the wind and we hit some balls hard, too.”

Leading 1-0, Auburn busted the game open with a five-run third, which included back-to-back solo home runs from Cullen Wacker and Garrett Cooper to start the inning and a two-run shot by Blake Austin moments later that made it 5-0.

“Hitting is contagious, and we swung the bats well today,” Wacker said. “We had balls that had eyes. Balls that hadn’t been finding holes came through yesterday and today.”

Auburn extended the lead to 9-0 in the fourth, taking advantage of a Texas A&M error. Wacker and Cooper had back-to-back singles and moved up on a Damek Tomscha sacrifice. Jackson Burgreen reached on an error, scoring Wacker. Cooper went to third and scored on Blake Austin’s sacrifice fly. Dan Glevenyak singled to score Burgreen.

Given the early lead, Auburn starter Michael O’Neal (6-2) cruised through six innings to get the win. He allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk while striking out one and hitting two in six-plus innings. The six wins are the most by an Auburn pitcher since Derek Varnadore finished the 2011 season 6-3.

Wacker and Cooper each finished the day with three hits. Austin finished with three RBI. Ryan Tella was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored from the leadoff spot and Burgreen was 2-for-4 with two runs scored from the six-hole.

Trey Cochran-Gill earned his second save of the season, tossing the final three innings and allowing two runs, both in the ninth, on five hits while striking out two.

The three-homer game was Auburn’s first in exactly a year. It homered three times in a 10-6 loss at Alabama on April 6, 2011. The three-homer inning was Auburn’s first since it hit four in a six-run fifth-inning in a 16-14 come-from-behind win over Mississippi State on May 8, 2010.

Auburn will go for the sweep Sunday at 1 p.m. Left-hander Will Kendall will get the start.

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