Tigers Lose A Tough One To Arizona State

Auburn fell 8-7 to #7 Arizona State Friday night after leading 4-0 early.

Auburn, Ala.--Arizona State scored a pair of runs in the ninth inning on three hits to complete the comeback and take an 8-7 win over Auburn Friday night at Plainsman Park. Leading 4-0 early and taking a one-run lead into the ninth, the Tigers couldn't hold off the #7 Sun Devils in the loss.

Despite three hits and a career high four RBI from junior Dan Gamache, Auburn again struggled offensively with 13 strikeouts and only nine hits in the loss with no other player having more than one hit.

On the mound Cory Luckie allowed three runs on nine hits in four and one/third innings. Ethan Wallen took the loss, allowing a pair of runs on four hits in two and two/thirds innings of relief.

Auburn falls to 10-4 with the loss while Arizona State improves to 10-2.

"It's real disappointing," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "We were up 4-0 and Danny Gamache had put some good swings on it. We knew they weren't going away. That's a solid ball club over there and they play to a high level. We had our chances and it just didn't work out."

Auburn entered the ninth inning leading 7-6 after pinch runner Bobby Andrews scored on an infield single and error off the bat of Justin Fradejas in the eighth to break up a tie game. With Wallen on for his third inning of relief he walked catcher Austin Barnes to start the ninth in what proved to be a fatal mistake.

Following a sacrifice bunt that moved the runner to second, pinch hitter Andrew Aplin singled up the middle to score Barnes and tie the game at seven. Then came the crazy play of the game and possibly of the season.

Already 2-2 on the game, number nine hitter Andy Workman scorched a ball towards second base that hit umpire Jay Pierce and caromed to Justin Hargett. With the ball in his hand and ready to throw to first Hargett stopped as the umpire signaled a dead ball. In a little-known rule the ball is dead when it passes the pitcher and makes contact with an umpire before it reaches a fielder.

It proved to be a big play as it extended the inning and with two outs Zack MacPhee singled to right field to score Workman and give Arizona State the 8-7 lead. Reliever Mitchell Lambson improved to 3-1 for ASU as he allowed a run on four hits in two and one/third innings of relief.

Early on it was all Auburn and it all came with two outs. In the first Casey McElroy was hit by a pitch with two outs and nobody on and a walk to Wes Gilmer followed to bring Gamache to the plate. Getting a pitch to drive, the junior blasted it over the head of the right fielder for a double. The hit scored both runners to make it 2-0 Auburn.

Luckie escaped his first serious jam in the third as the Sun Devils had a pair of singles but the junior recovered to strike out Riccio Torrez to end the threat. It was then time for the Tigers to come up with more two out magic.

With two outs and nobody on McElroy again got things started, this time with a walk. A Gilmer single to left field put runners on the corners for Gamache and once again the Rhode Island native did his thing. Getting a pitch away, the designated hitter laced it to the wall in left-center for a triple. That scored both runners again, making it 4-0 Tigers.

After threatening in the third Arizona State finally got to Luckie in the fourth. With one out Deven Marrero reached on an infield single and catcher Barnes followed with a single of his own to put runners on first and second. Getting the second out of the inning the junior couldn't finish things off without some trouble as three consecutive singles later Auburn's lead was sliced to 4-3 going to the fifth.

Struggles on defense would haunt the Tigers as three Auburn miscues led to a pair of Arizona State runs to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the sixth. With Bradley Hendrix still on in relief after getting out of the fifth, ASU's Matt Newman singled and moved to second when Xorge Carrillo was hit by a pitch.

Attempting to bunt the runners over, Workman reached when Gilmer ran by the ball for an error to load the bases. Hendrix then got a break with Johnny Ruettiger lined out to Cullen Wacker in left field. With Workman easily 25 feet off the bag at second the Tigers had what looked to be an easy double play but the throw bounced and couldn't be handled by Hargett, allowing Workman to get back in safely. Later in the inning a Torrez sacrifice fly off Ray gave ASU its first lead at 5-4.

Auburn would answer back in the bottom of the sixth and once again it would come with two outs and nobody on. Tony Caldwell's double to left field brought Kevin Patterson up looking for something to drive. Pushing the count to even at 2-2, the senior blasted his third home run of the season to right field. That gave Auburn the lead back but only briefly.

A leadoff double set the Sun Devils up in the seventh as the run would later come around to score on a Ruettiger single to left field. Wallen shut the door on a bases loaded rally though to keep the score tied. That set the stage for the dramatic ending a win for Arizona State.

Auburn will look to even up the series on Saturday as sophomore Slade Smith (1-0, 7.98 ERA) takes on Kyle Ottoson (2-0, 3.71) for the Sun Devils. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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