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Newcomers shine in walk-off win

AUBURN -- Damek Tomscha knew it was gone as soon the ball left his bat.

Koger didn't figure into the decision.

The junior college transfer drove a solo homerun over the Green monster in left field to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning in his first game at Plainsman Park to give Auburn a 3-2 walk-off win over visiting Maine in Friday’s season opener.

“That was pretty special,” Tomscha said. “...It was a 3-1 count and I kind of figured he’d throw me a fastball. It was high and inside and I got a good swing on it.”

Tomscha wasn’t the only newcomer to shine for the Tigers Friday. Freshman Jackson Burgreen had two doubles and scored a run while a trio of junior college transfers -- Reid Carter, Conner Kendrick and Terrance Dedrick -- closed out the final 2.2 innings of the game allowing one hit.

Dedrick (1-0) struck out the only batter he faced in the top of the ninth to pick up the win.

Another newcomer, freshman Sam Gillikin took away a 3-run homerun from Scott Heath to end the top of the 5th inning on a leaping catch against the right field wall.

“He made a tremendous, athletic play,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said.

Senior Garett Cooper had a two-out double in the sixth to drive home Burgreen and then scored on a single by Tomscha to give Auburn a 2-1 lead. Maine tied the game in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Sam Balzano and Colin Gay.

Auburn starter Daniel Koger had a solid outing but didn’t factor into the decision. The sophomore left-hander allowed one unearned run on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5.0 innings. He threw 70 pitches.

“He didn’t have his best stuff,” Pawlowski said. “His command was very average for him. He battled and gave us five innings ... but he’ll get better. Not the great stuff we’ve seen from him but we know he’s capable.”

Maine starter Tommy Lawrence held Auburn to two runs on seven hits in 7.0 innings. He struck out four and walked two.

Auburn committed two errors in the game, had a runner picked off second base and had two thrown out stealing.

“I kind of felt like we were a little flat for a while,” Tomscha said. “We couldn’t get some hits strung together. That’s the way baseball is sometimes, especially the first game.

“Hopefully, this momentum will carry over to tomorrow.”

Senior outfielder Cullen Wacker was suspended for Friday’s opener but is expected back in the lineup for Saturday’s doubleheader, which gets underway at noon CT.

“He’s available to play tomorrow,” Pawlowski said. “He has a little tenderness in his arm so I don’t know if he’ll play the outfield or DH.”

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