The sweep drops Auburn to 0-6 in SEC play for the first time since 2007 and 15-9 overall. Since starting 6-3 in the conference last season, Auburn is just 6-20 in its last 26 league regular season SEC games. With Alabama coming to Plainsman Park beginning Thursday night for a three-game series, there is no question now that Auburn needs a big weekend to get back in the race and build some confidence for the remaining schedule.
In what seems like a broken record, Auburn's pitching once again was the story as LSU jumped out to a six-run lead in two innings to coast to victory. Starter Will Kendall didn't make it out of the first inning after some shaky defense and tough breaks as he allowed four earned runs on three hits. Relievers Terrance Dedrick and Conner Kendrick combined to allow four runs on nine hits in five and one/third innings to make it a long day on the mound for the Tigers.
"We gave them probably five outs in the first inning and it makes it tough," Pawlowski says. "You throw in a couple of walks and a couple of hits and there you go, it's a big inning and we're down 4-0. I thought we did a good job of battling back, but unfortunately it was the same situation we've been in. We have to keep our heads up and keep working and keep moving forward."
Conversely freshman Cody Glenn earned the win for LSU, allowing two runs on six hits in seven and one/third innings. Allowing many more hard hit balls than Auburn's pitchers allowed on Sunday, he was able to work out of trouble thanks mainly to some great defense behind him. Pawlowski says they got some good swings, but again couldn't get anything to fall.
"It seems like that has been the story," Pawlowski says. "I know our team and nobody is more disappointed than this group of players and myself. We have to evaluate everything we're doing, from the coaches to the players. We'll get better, I know we will. It's a nasty stretch that we just went through and hopefully Tuesday we'll come back with the right mindset and get back to playing some Auburn Tigers' baseball."
Making his first SEC start of the season following a return from Tommy John surgery, Kendall made it just two/thirds of an inning against LSU on Sunday thanks to several defensive lapses. It started right out of the gate as leadoff man Chris Sciambra lifted a fly ball to shallow left field. With a strong wind blowing in from left field, Cullen Wacker could never get to the ball as it fell in between he and Dan Glevenyak at shortstop. Never slowing down, Sciambra wound up at second with a double.
That would be a sign of things to come on this day as Martin Laird hit a liner to Jordan Ebert at second base that handcuffed the freshman for an infield single to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Kendall got a ground ball to Glevenyak at short off the bat of Alex Bregman, but it was too slow to turn a double play as he took the out at second. Raph Rhymes followed with a similar play to Ebert at second as he threw to Glevenyak at the bag for the second out of the inning. The play allowed Scriambra to score however and put LSU on the board.
Damek Tomscha gets ready at third base
LSU's top slugger, Mason Katz reached on yet another infield single to put runners on first and second for the homestanding Tigers before a walk to Chris Ibarra loaded the bases. Laboring on the mound, Kendall then walked JaCoby Jones to force home a run and bring Chris Chinea to the plate with LSU already up 2-0. Hitting just .217 on the season with two RBI, Chinea laced a single to right field to double his total and that of the LSU team.
Already trailing 4-0, Auburn got to work offensively in the second inning against LSU starter Cody Glenn as Garrett Cooper blasted a one-out double off the base of the wall in right field. With two outs Blake Austin's sharp single to right field scored the senior to put Auburn on the scoreboard. A walk to Glevenyak put a pair of runners on for Auburn, but a Hunter Kelley ground ball brought the inning to a close with Auburn down three.
After getting out of the first inning, Dedrick ran into trouble of his own in the second inning as Laird, Bregman and Rhymes had consecutive singles to make it 5-1 LSU. With Katz at the plate Dedrick uncorked a wild pitch to score Bregman and put Auburn in a five-run hole early on Sunday.
Getting some good swings against Glenn early, Auburn fell into a funk as the freshman got into a groove and kept the Tigers off the board. That allowed LSU to cruise until adding a pair of runs in the sixth off reliever Conner Kendrick thanks to consecutive doubles just inside the third base bag with two outs.
With the lead extended to 8-1 LSU, Auburn finally got back on the board in the eighth as Mitchell Self walked with one out after coming in as a replacement for Ebert. Moving to second as Cullen Wacker was hit by a pitch, Auburn loaded the bases on a Damek Tomscha single to bring Ryan Tella to the plate. Lifting a fly ball to right field, Tella's sacrifice fly scored Self from third to make it 8-2 LSU. Putting together a fantastic 15-pitch at-bat before being hit by a pitch for the second time on the day, Garrett Cooper reached first to load the bases for Auburn. As was the case all weekend a Patrick Savage liner went directly to the LSU right fielder for the final out.
Chris Cotton closed things out in the ninth for LSU as they improved to 22-2 overall and 5-1 in SEC play with the victory. At the plate Auburn finished with just six hits as Tella and Austin had the RBI on the day. For LSU Mark Laird had three hits and scored two runs, giving him seven total for the weekend. That matched Auburn's offensive total for the three games.
Auburn will return to action Tuesday night at 6 p.m. when the Tigers face Troy on the road.