"They put four runs on the board in one inning and that seemed to set the tone," Pawlowski says. "We did a good job pitching-wise except for one inning. We walked two guys and they came up with some hits and we mishandled two balls. They put four runs on the board just like that and when we had our opportunities to score a couple of runs with the bases loaded a couple of times unfortunately we weren't able to come up with anything."
Auburn didn't have an answer for Alabama starting pitcher Charley Sullivan on Thursday night. Entering the game with a 2-1 record and an ERA of 2.92, Sullivan allowed just one run on five hits as he kept the Tigers off-balance until exiting following eight innings of work.
By contrast the Tigers didn't get what they were hoping from junior left-hander Conner Kendrick. Making his first start of the season Kendrick lasted just five and one/third innings, allowing six runs on nine hits while walking four. With only two of the runs he allowed were earned, Kendrick's performance was a far cry from what he has done so far this season, but Pawlowski says it wasn't all bad.
"I thought he left just a couple of balls up, but overall I was encouraged by what I saw," Pawlowski says. "He'll certainly get another opportunity out there. I thought he battled. We need to help him. We have to help him get out of an inning and we didn't do that.
"We have to keep going," he adds. "That's all you can do. There is no magical formula or anything we can say to them other than to keep getting them on. Sooner or later we're going to bust through with some big innings."
It proved to be a huge mistakes as Kendrick got a fly ball to left field that would have ended the inning, but instead it was just for the second out as Chance Vincent scored from third for the 2-0 lead. Bret Booth then broke the game open with a double to center field to score two more runs to bring Smith back to the plate. Pulling a single through the left side, Smith never slowed down as Cullen Wacker misplayed the ground ball allowing it to roll all the way to the wall. The error made it 5-0 Alabama and put Auburn in yet another big hole early in a game.
Alabama would extend the lead to six runs with a single run in the fifth before reliever Reid Carter would come on to keep the Crimson Tide at bay the rest of the way. It wouldn't matter however as Sullivan shut down the Tigers all night with the exception one of swing of the bat from Blake Austin. In the bottom of the seventh the catcher got a pitch to handle and drove it over the wall in left field for his first home run of the season to put Auburn on the scoreboard.
In the ninth the Tigers got something going against Alabama closer Mitch Greer as Damek Tomscha doubled to left and scored on a two-out single off the bat of Patrick Savage. A walk to Austin brought pinch-hitter J.D. Crowe to the plate where he earned a walk to load the bases for Ryan Tella. Ray Castillo came out of the pen to try to finish things off for Alabama and got Tella swinging to send Auburn to its seventh-straight SEC loss.
Auburn will try to get its first SEC win of the season on Friday night at 6 p.m. as the Tigers send Michael O'Neal to the mound against Jon Keller for Alabama.