Tigers Blanked By Samford

Auburn was blanked by Samford 8-0 on Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--Samford scored four runs in the first inning off Auburn starter Andrew Morris and never looked back on Tuesday night as the Bulldogs shut down the Tigers 8-0 at Plainsman Park. It was the first time Auburn has ever been shut out by the Bulldogs since they became a Division I team.

Samford's first five hitters all had two hits on the night led by freshman Phillip Ervin with a homer and five RBI. He now has nine combined RBI against Auburn and Alabama in two games this season.

Falling to 22-18 overall, Auburn managed just six hits and hit just five balls on the ground the entire game. Three went as groundouts, one was a bunt single by Justin Hargett, and the last an error on Samford. It continued what has become a frustrating year for coach John Pawlowski as Auburn dropped its fourth game to an in-state school that's not Alabama this season.

"It's just frustrating," Pawlowski said. "You don't get out of the gates and you struggle at the beginning of the ballgame. It's tough. We didn't get anything going offensively or pitching early in the game."

At the plate Kevin Patterson was the only Auburn player with multiple hits as he finished with two singles. In all the Tigers had 17 fly ball outs and just couldn't get anything going offensively. Junior Casey McElroy said it's just tough to put your finger on why this team struggles during the week.

"We have been having really good weekends lately and maybe we've just not been getting up for these midweek games," McElroy said. "That's really no excuse. We should take every game like it's a championship game. Lately during the midweek we haven't been bringing our A game at all."

The lone bright spot was the pitching of freshman Will Kendall. Coming on in relief of Morris, who allowed seven runs on seven hits in three innings, Kendall allowed just one run on six hits in five and one/third innings.

"I thought Will Kendall did a really good job for us," Pawlowski said. "He certainly saved our bullpen."

It didn't take long for Samford to take control of Tuesday night's game as the Bulldogs pushed across four in the first. Michael Johnson got things started with an infield single and quickly moved to third on a double from Brad Moss. Following a strikeout, Brandon Miller doubled home both runners for the 2-0 lead to bring Ervin to the plate.

Hitting .379 on the year coming into the game, the freshman from Leroy smashed a double to left field to drive home Miller and give the Bulldogs a three-run advantage. The speedy center fielder stole third and that proved to be big as he scored on Kevin Putkonen's ground ball for a 4-0 Samford lead.

Following a scoreless second Morris again ran into trouble in the third inning and Ervin was at the center of things. With one out Butler and Miller reached on back-to-back singles to bring Ervin up again. On the second pitch he deposited his fourth homer of the year over the monster in left field to give Martin a seven-run lead to work with.

With Samford cruising on the mound Auburn managed just six hits in the first seven innings and had just two ground ball outs during that stretch. Fortunately for Pawlowski's club Kendall had kept the Tigers in the game with a very solid performance out of the bullpen.

In the bottom of the eighth and still down 7-0 Auburn finally got something going against Samford reliever Grant Sides. Cullen Wacker was hit by a pitch to start things off for the Tigers and a pair of walks to Caleb Bowen and Dan Gamache followed to bring Brooks Beisner to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. It was the first time an Auburn runner had reached third base in the game.

Sides recovered to strike out Beisner to leave things up to Kevin Patterson. Facing Samford closer Andrew Jones, Patterson popped up to Butler at first base to end the Auburn threat with the Tigers still down by a touchdown. The Bulldogs tacked on a run in the ninth inning to finish off the eight-run victory.

Auburn will return to action Wednesday as the Tigers will face Texas Southern at Plainsman Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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