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May 11, 2013- -
GAINESVILLE, Fla. | Michael O'Neal was one out away from his third complete game of the year but a two-out, three-run home run by Josh Tobias tied the game and a Zack Powers pinch-hit RBI double ended it as Auburn allowed four runs in the ninth to fall 5-4 at Florida on Saturday night.
The loss dropped Auburn's record to 30-20 overall and 10-16 in Southeastern Conference play.
"That's a tough way to lose a ballgame. I thought out kids played hard and competed all night long," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "Michael O'Neal, his ball had as much movement on it today as it has all year. Unfortunately that last inning, it just didn't work out for us tonight."
Florida's ninth inning started with a hit batter by O'Neal. After Taylor Gushue hit into a fielder's choice for the first out of the inning, O'Neal struck out Justin Shafer for the second out. Vickash Ramjit kept the Florida inning alive with a single through the right side to bring up Tobias, who was hitless in three at bats against O'Neal through the first eight innings. Tobias wasted little time tying the game up, hitting the first pitch he saw, O'Neal's 101st of the night, into the bleachers in left for his third home run of the year and the first allowed by O'Neal this season.
Reid Carter (1-1), who was summoned from the Auburn bullpen to get the last out, walked Harrison Bader and then allowed a pinch hit double to Powers, which scored Bader from first for the win. Auburn second baseman Jordan Ebert appeared to have made an over-the-shoulder catch on the ball as he raced out to shallow right but it fell to the ground, allowing Bader to beat the throw home.
O'Neal stifled the Florida bats before the ninth, holding Florida to just one run on four hits over the first eight innings, walking none.
"I thought he did an outstanding job and commanded the strike zone. He really had tremendous movement. (Florida) hadn't hit a ball that hard off him all night but unfortunately in the ninth inning you have to continue to execute and that didn't happen," Pawlowski said of O'Neal.
Patrick Savage led off the second with his sixth double of the year and came around to score on Ebert's one-out RBI single to center for a 1-0 Auburn lead.
Savage, who would finish the night with a career-high four hits, extended the lead to 2-0 in the third when he singled in Hunter Kelley with a two-out hit.
Florida cut the lead in half, 2-1, in the fifth when it capitalized on an Auburn throwing error. Bader reached on a two-out infield single and O'Neal had Bader picked off first but Garrett Cooper's throw down to second was low, eluding the glove of Dan Glevenyak, and allowing Bader in safely. Brady Roberson followed with a double down the line in right for the RBI.
Hunter Kelley's solo shot to start the eighth gave Auburn a 3-1 lead and ended Florida starter Johnny Magliozzi's night. Magliozzi, who was named the starter Saturday morning, finished his night allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out five.
Auburn tried to stretch the lead off the Florida bullpen later in the eighth with two one and two out but Garrett Cooper, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games with a single, was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on an Ebert single to center.
Blake Austin's solo shot with two outs in the ninth upped the lead to 4-1, giving Auburn nine two-out runs in the two-game series.
Auburn will attempt to win the series on Sunday at noon CT. Neither team has announced a starting pitcher.