Auburn Falls To Rebels To Even Series

Auburn lost to Ole Miss 10-7 Friday night at Plainsman Park to even the series with the Rebels.

Auburn, Ala.--Visiting Ole Miss scored eight runs in the first four innings and made it stand up as the Rebels evened the series with Auburn on Friday night with a 10-7 victory at Plainsman Park. With the loss the Tigers fall to 21-17 overall and 8-9 in SEC play. Ole Miss improves to 24-16, 9-8 in league action.

Rolling the dice and sending junior Zach Blatt out to start in the second game of the series, the Tigers fell behind early and could never recover as the Opelika native struggled with a blister on his hand that kept him from being consistent. Getting the loss to move to 2-3, Blatt allowed seven runs on seven hits in just three innings of work. Sean Ray gave up a pair of earned runs in three innings while Bradley Hendrix pitched three scoreless innings to end the game.

At the plate Casey McElroy and Tony Caldwell each had two hits for the Tigers as they finished the night with 10 hits off of Ole Miss pitching, but it was the lack of clutch hitting that doomed Auburn on this night. Leaving 11 runners on base in a three-run loss, the Tigers fall a game and a half out of first place in the Western Division heading into Saturday.

"We didn't get out of the gates very well," coach John Pawlowski said. "We had our chances, but they hit the big three-run home run that kind of put us back on our heels. I thought the guys we put in there kept battling back and made it a close game. We got behind and never could get too much going on build the big inning that we needed."

To add to the woes from Friday night the Tigers lost standout freshman outfielder Bobby Andrews in the third inning after he made a sliding grab in left field. The x-rays came back negative on his left wrist and Pawlowski said he's listed as day-to-day heading into Saturday.

After two consecutive solid performances Blatt struggled early and often on Friday as he allowed a run in both the first and second innings to put the Tigers down 2-0. Auburn answered back in the bottom of the second however as Kevin Patterson was hit by a Goforth pitch to get the ball rolling for the Tigers. Following a fly ball out, senior Justin Hargett singled to bring the hot Andrews to the plate.

Continuing his roll, the freshman singled home Patterson and Hargett's alert base running put runners on first and third with still one out. In the starting lineup as the designated hitter Cullen Wacker's smash at the first baseman handcuffed Miles Hamblin enough to allow Hargett to score. With the game tied at two Blatt went back to the mound in the third trying to hold the Rebels down, but it wasn't to be on this night.

Committing the cardinal sin in baseball, Blatt walked Tanner Mathis to open the inning but recovered to get Blake Newalu on a fly ball. Another single by Alex Yarbrough brought Matt Smith to the plate. Pulling a sinking liner to left, Smith was retired on sliding catch by Andrews. Matt Tracy followed with a single into left-center field that Andrews tracked down but had problems throwing the ball back into the infield.

Injuring his arm on his sliding catch earlier in the inning Andrews had to be taken out of the game and replaced by Jay Gonzalez. The downtime didn't helped Blatt as matt snyder greeted him with a long home run to right field to put Ole Miss up 6-2. The Rebels added two more in the fourth as Ray came on in relief of Blatt but a Yarbrough double scored a pair of runs to put the Tigers down six with Goforth in control on the mound.

Much like Blatt, Goforth put himself in trouble in the fifth with a walk to Casey McElroy to lead off the inning. Facing the right-hander, Tony Caldwell doubled to left field to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Goforth then compounded his problems as a wild pitch and a balk pushed across both runs to cut the lead to 8-4. The Tigers managed to get two more runners on with two outs, but a Hargett strikeout ended the threat.

Trailing by four Auburn had already left eight on base through five innings and it would prove to be costly as Ole Miss added two more in the seventh to push the lead to six. The Tigers didn't quit though as pinch hitter Brooks Beisner singled off reliever Eric Callender in the eighth and moved to second on a wild pitch. With one out Gonzalez singled him home to make it 10-5 Rebels.

Continuing the rally, senior Wes Gilmer followed with a pinch hit double down the right field line to put two in scoring position for McElroy. The junior delivered with a single through the right side to push across both runners and make it a three-run game.

Ole Miss closer Bobby Wahl came on to strike out freshman catcher Blake Austin for the second out to bring Gamache to the plate. Hitless on the night in three attempts, the junior walked to bring the tying run to the plate. However Simpson suffered the same fate as Austin as he struck out to leave the Tigers down three. Wahl finished off Auburn in the ninth for his third save to send it to Saturday even at one game each.

Auburn will send Jon Luke Jacobs (1-3, 3.21 ERA) to the mound for the noon start against the Rebels at Plainsman Park. Ole Miss will counter with junior LHP Austin Wright (4-3, 3.99).

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