Despite the loss Auburn has now won five of its last six SEC games to climb within striking distance of first place in the Western Division at the halfway point of the league schedule. At 7-6 Auburn is a game back of Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss. Mississippi State is 6-9 at the halfway point while LSU is 4-11.
Coach John Pawlowski said Sunday was a tough day for his team as they walked too many guys on the mound and didn't play well offensively, but overall the weekend was a huge success.
"We got some guys on base and got it to where we were right in the game, but unfortunately we couldn't do it," Pawlowski said. "Jon Luke Jacobs got out the first inning and did a good job. I was also encouraged by what Slade Smith did. I was pleased with that. I told our team that I know they are very disappointed with today, but the big picture is you go on the road and win two out of three and that's a big step."
Getting the start, Auburn's Jon Luke Jacobs had a fantastic outing as he allowed just three runs on three hits in five innings, but walked six to tarnish the day. Slade Smith came on in relief and allowed just two hits and no runs in three innings. Pawlowski said his team pitched well enough to win but LSU starter Ben Alsup was just a little better.
"His slider was good," Pawlowski said. "He just kept our guys off balance. We weren't able to barrel up any balls today. We didn't square up anything. Consequently we didn't have the opportunities we would like to score some runs."
Throwing 126 pitches and allowing just two runs on five hits and striking out six, Alsup won to improve to 5-3 on the season. Matty Ott came on to record the save as Auburn managed just a pair of runs on six hits for the game.
LSU jumped on top early in the first thanks to a shaky start by Jacobs on the mound. Opening the game the Auburn starter walked the first two hitters he faced before getting Raph Rhymes on a flyout for out number one. Jacobs then walked Mikie Mahtook to load the bases for Austin Nola and he delivered with a fly ball to score the first run of the game.
With Alsup cruising on the mound that's how things would stay until the fifth. Auburn had managed just three hits and never really threatened to score, but LSU would break things open with a pair of runs off Jacobs after being shut down early.
Keeping LSU scoreless after the first, Jacobs had not allowed a hit until Austin Ross singled to start the fifth. With two outs Tyler Hanover singled to right field to put runners on first and second with two outs for Rhymes. Getting a pitch to drive he doubled to left center to score both runs and make it 3-0 LSU. Creede Simpson was hurt on the play as he was hit in the face and suffered a bloody nose, but Pawlowski said he should be okay.
That's all that Alsup would need as Auburn couldn't get anything going offensively. The visiting Tigers did get something going in the ninth inning however as Bobby Andrews walked and Casey McElroy singled to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. Over 100 pitches in the game, Alsup recovered to get Dan Gamache on a flyout to Mahtook in center field.
Facing senior Tony Caldwell with the complete game in his grasp, Alsup appeared to finish things off as Caldwell hit a fly ball to right field. However Mason Katz couldn't find the ball in the sun as it fell for a base hit. Off on the full count pitch, McElroy scored all the way from first to join Andrews. Now trailing just 3-2, pinch hitter Brooks Beisner faced Ott with the tying run at first base.
Coming through in the clutch, Beisner singled up the middle to bring senior Kevin Patterson to the plate. With two strikes a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position for Patterson. Without a hit on the weekend Patterson struck out to end the threat and allow LSU to salvage a win in the series.
Auburn will return to action Tuesday night at 6 p.m. as the Tigers face South Alabama at Plainsman Park.