LSU Too Much For Auburn In 9-4 Win

Auburn outhit LSU 12-10, but two early home runs by the Bengal Tigers proved to be the difference in a 9-4 win Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.

Baton Rouge, La.—LSU got a three-run homer from Raph Rhymes in the first inning and a two-run shot from Mason Katz in the third and cruised the rest of the way behind starting pitcher Austin Nola as the Auburn Tigers fell in the series opener 9-4. Despite getting 12 hits and getting runners on base in eight of nine innings, Coach John Pawlowski's club couldn't crawl out of the early hole and fell to 15-7 on the season and 0-4 in league play.

"We got behind 3-0 and then offensively we kept battling," Pawlowski says. "It was 3-2 and we went back out and gave up another home run. On two pitches they scored five runs. Tough to overcome that. I thought offensively with 12 hits, we were just one hit away with the bases loaded a couple of times. I liked our approach today. I thought we did some good things."

The story for Auburn was once again the struggles by the starting pitching. Lasting just three and one/third innings, Daniel Koger gave up five runs on five hits and walked three. Those were three of 10 walked issued by Auburn pitching on the night as LSU (20-2, 3-1) finished with just 10 hits in the win. Pawlowski says that was the biggest issue in the Friday night loss.

"Not going to win with that," Pawlowski says. "You walk that many guys and give that many base runners to good teams and it's a recipe not to have a lot of success. I thought Reid Carter gave us a chance. We put him out there and just let him continue to go. He did a good job of keeping the game where it was and saving the bullpen for tomorrow."

A crowd of over 7,000 watched LSU improve to 20-2 on the season.

Friday night against LSU started much the same way it did last weekend for the Auburn Tigers and Koger as the long ball came back to haunt the sophomore. In the first inning he gave up consecutive singles to Mark Laird and Alex Bregman to bring Rhymes to the plate. Hitting .382 on the year, but still looking for his first home run, Rhymes got a pitch to handle and launched it into the left field bleachers for the early 3-0 LSU lead.

Auburn would respond early on with some solid approaches at the plate against LSU starter Aaron Nola. With two outs and nobody on Damek Tomscha ripped a double to right field to bring Blake Austin to the plate and the junior came through with a single of his own to put Auburn on the scoreboard.

In the third Auburn was at it again as Jordan Ebert walked and stole second with one out to move into scoring position for Garrett Cooper. Taking an outside pitch the other way for his sixth double of the season, the senior pushed Ebert across to make it 3-2 LSU. With a chance to tie the game Auburn instead left Cooper on second with a Ryan Tella strikeout and a Patrick Savage fly ball to end the inning.

Back in the game after two successful innings, Auburn quickly gave it all back on one swing of the bat. Walking Laird to lead off the bottom of the third, Koger came back to get two fly ball outs to bring Katz to the plate. Leading the league with nine home runs entering the contest, Katz got a pitch up in the zone and planted it in the left field bleachers for his 10th of the season. That made it 5-2 LSU, but they weren't done.

Coming on in relief to get out of a jam in the fourth inning, Wade allowed a single to Bregman and consecutive walks to Rhymes and Katz in the fifth with no outs. Working the count full against Christian Ibarra, Wade had to dodge a liner back up the middle and fell to the ground in pain as the single scored two more runs for LSU to push the lead to 7-2.

Wade left the game on a seated stretcher and was taken for x-rays at a local hospital. There is still no word on his injured ankle, but it's doubtful he'll be available the rest of the weekend for Auburn.

That's how things would stay although Auburn threatened in both the sixth and seventh innings off Nola. In the sixth the Tigers got consecutive singles from Savage and Tomscha to put a runner in scoring position, but a nasty slider from Nola caught Austin looking to end the inning. In the seventh Dan Glevenyak doubled to lead things off for his second hit of the game, but was stranded at second as reliever Brent Bonvillian got Cullen Wacker on a spectacular play by JaCoby Jones at second base to end the threat.

With Carter pitching well in relief the Auburn offense went back to work in the eighth thanks to plenty of help from the LSU bullpen. Walking Cooper to start the inning, Bonvillian gave way to Nick Rumbelow for LSU and he wouldn't fare any better as pinch hitter Hunter Kelley greeted him with a sharp double to left field to put Auburn in business.

Following a strikeout of Savage, Rumbelow walked Tomscha to load the bases and then issued a walk to Austin to force home Cooper and make it 7-3. That was enough for LSU as they brought on closer Joey Bourgeois and he quickly got Glevenyak on pop up before pinch hitter Kody Ortman's ground ball brought the inning to a close.

LSU used that momentum to break the game open in the bottom of the eighth as the homestanding Tigers added two runs off Carter to make it 9-3. Facing Kevin Berry in the ninth, Ebert doubled to start the inning and scored on a Wacker single. That would be it for Auburn on the night however as Berry finished off the game to make it a five-run loss.

Tomscha led the Auburn attack with three hits while Ebert and Glevenyak finished with two hits each. The freshman Bregman led LSU with three hits, his fourth three-hit game of the season.

Auburn will look to even the series on Saturday and get its first SEC win at 6:30 p.m. as Michael O'Neal (4-1, 1.99 ERA) takes the mound against RHP Ryan Eades (4-0, 1.69 ERA) for LSU.

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