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February 15, 2013

Newcomers make the difference

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AUBURN -- Newcomers stole the spotlight Friday.

Third baseman Damek Tomscha, a junior-college transfer signed to provide defensive upgrades, led Auburn to an opening-day victory with his bat. His solo home run in the ninth inning gave Auburn the lift it needed in a 3-2 win.

"That was pretty special," Tomshea said.

Tomscha worked the count to 3-1, which gave him a meaningful advantage. Maine pitcher Shaun Coughlin didn't want to walk the junior, so he had to throw a strike.

The fastball was chest-high and over the plate.

Now it's sitting in the power substation situated just beyond the Plainsman Park outfield wall. The ball cleared the wall with room to spare - and passed within a few feet of the foul pole.

Tomscha's homer was the most obvious contribution, but two freshmen played substantive roles Friday. Right fielder Sam Gillikin's catch against the wall during the fifth inning, which ended the inning and stranded two baserunners.

Left fielder Jackson Burgreen was placed in the lead-off spot Friday and finished with a pair of doubles. The freshman from Athens, Ala., played well during several recent intrasquad games.

Also, usual left fielder Cullen Wacker wasn't available because of a one-game suspension.

"When you step between those lines, you're not a freshman anymore," Burgreen said. "You just have to go out there and make it look like you know what you're doing."

Tomscha, Burgreen and catcher Blake Austin finished with two hits apiece. Another newcomer, Terrance Dedrick, earned the win by striking out the only batter he faced during the ninth inning.

Starter Daniel Koger went five innings and allowed one run, though it was unearned. The bullpen worked the final four inning and struck out six batters.

The teams resume play Saturday with a doubleheader that begins at noon.



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