"Frustrating" Series Finale for Tigers

Auburn's pitching did the job, but Auburn's offense was a no show in a loss at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--It was another frustrating day for the Auburn baseball team at Plainsman Park as the Tigers dropped the rubber game of their SEC series to Alabama, falling 2-0.

The Tigers were unable to capitalize on strong pitching and fell to 16-12 overall and 1-8 in the SEC. Alabama improved to 18-11 overall and 7-2 in the SEC.

"I thought that we had some chances, had a couple of guys on, but they played solid defense," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "Sometimes in a close ball game like that it comes down to one pitch, one play. It's frustrating. You give up two hits and we end up losing 2-0."

Alabama starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull was masterful for the Crimson Tide on the mound. The 6-3, 220- pound sophomore from Madison, Miss., pitched a complete game. The right-hander only allowed one Auburn base runner to reach scoring position all afternoon, and that was Ryan Tella in the bottom of the first inning.

Turnbull kept the Tiger hitters off balance throughout the game, pitching to contact and letting his defense do the work for him. He struck out four Auburn batters and walked three, but every time that Auburn did manage to get a base runner on against him, Turnbull was able to work his way around it.

Palowski pointed out just how crucial those missed opportunities were, "Four out of the first five innings I think we had the leadoff guy on," he said. "It's just unfortunate that we weren't able to do anything with it. It put us in a tough spot. Like I said, they made the plays defensively".

The Tide defense turned four double plays game, including three consecutive innings from the third to the fifth after Auburn was able to get the leadoff man on base in each of those three innings.

Auburn junior left-hander Will Kendall started for the second consecutive weekend and was able to make it through three complete innings as he continues to work his way back from injury. Kendall allowed one unearned run, on one hit, while walking two batters and striking out a pair as well in his three innings of work.

Kendall was relieved to start the fourth inning by sophomore left-hander, Daniel Koger. Koger went the rest of the way for the Tigers, allowing a single run on only one hit during his six innings of work. He walked three and didn't record a strikeout.

"Koger did a great job," Pawlowski said. "I thought that Will Kendall did, too. It's the first time he has gone three innings since he's come back. He went out there and gave us three innings and Koger gave us six innings of exactly what we needed."

Auburn's only real offensive chance of the game came in the first inning as leadoff man Tella stretched what looked to be a routine single to right field into a double with impressive speed and hustle. Second baseman Jordan Ebert was then able to draw a walk to put runners on first and second.

That was all of the offense that Auburn could muster though as Garrett Cooper grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Cullen Wacker flew out harmlessly to left field to end Auburn's only threat.

Alabama's first run was the result of an error made by third baseman Damek Tomscha (his eighth error of the season). The Tide got off to a good start in the inning by Kendall hitting Alabama designated hitter, Chance Vincent, to lead off the top of the 3rd inning. Andrew Miller then sacrifice bunted to advance Vincent to second base.

Kendall seemed to settle down and threw a beautiful, full-count changeup to Alabama leadoff man Georgie Salem to strike him out for out number two. Auburn looked to be out of the inning when Kendall induced a ground ball to third base, but Tomscha could not make the play and the ball was by him into left field scoring Vincent scored from second on the play.

Kendall was able to regain his composure and avoid a big inning though as he got Ben Moore to ground out weakly right back to the pitcher's mound for the final out of the inning.

Both pitching staffs were in cruise control until the top half of the seventh inning when Koger ran into a little bit of trouble. Alabama once again used a hit batsman to spark its offense. After inducing a ground ball to shortstop for out number one, Koger lost control of a breaking ball and hit Alabama shortstop Mikey White. Chance Vincent was next up and he executed a very nice hit and run with a single to right field, advancing White to third.

Next up Andrew Miller executed a squeeze bunt to send home Alabama's second run of the game. That would prove to be more than enough, as Auburn never threatened again.

Auburn will return to the field on Wednesday to take on Wofford at 6 p.m. at Plainsman Park.

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