While Auburn starter Will Kendall was roughed up in his continued return from Tommy John surgery, allowing five earned runs on four hits in just three and one/third innings, the same wasn't true of Georgia starter Jared Walsh. Just 1-3 on the season and in only his second start after having surgery two years ago, Walsh allowed just one unearned run on two hits in five and two/thirds innings and struck out nine.
"I was disappointed with the way things turned out in the second game," Auburn Coach John Pawlowski says. "Win the series in game one and had some a lot of positive things and was excited about that. The second game we just didn't get off to a good start. When you don't get off to a good start it makes it tough. We certainly didn't help ourselves offensively. When you put those two things together there weren't a lot of opportunities for us to win in game two."
The loss puts a damper on the series win for Auburn as the Tigers gain just one game in the SEC standings on the weekend. At the halfway point and just 5-10 in the league, Pawlowski says the Tigers have plenty of work still ahead but winning two consecutive series is something they can build on.
"It's disappointing," Pawlowski says. "I know our club is disappointed, but I tried to tell them to keep it all in perspective. We've won two series in a row, which is a positive considering the hole we dug ourselves early in the season. I'm very encouraged by the things we are doing. It's tough to sweep in this league and Georgia has a good club. They played extremely well in game two today."
It didn't take long for Georgia to score enough runs for Walsh to work with in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader as the Bulldogs struck for three runs in the first inning off Kendall. With two outs and nobody on Kyle Farmer reached on an infield single to give the Bulldogs just a little life. Up next, Walsh singled to move Farmer around to third and bring Brett DeLoach to the plate. With three home runs on the season, DeLoach got a pitch to drive and didn't miss it as he drove it over the left field wall to make it 3-0 Georgia early.
Getting things started, Ryan Tella put down a bunt that forced Walsh to make a tough play at first. His throw was off the mark for an error to put the speedy Tella on first base. Following a Jordan Ebert strikeout, Cullen Wacker laced a double down the left field line to give the Tigers a pair in scoring position. A Garrett Cooper ground ball pushed across Tella to put Auburn on the scoreboard before Blake Austin struck out looking to end the inning.
Already up 3-1, Georgia came back for more in the second off Kendall and he gave them some help. Facing Heath Holder in his first at-bat of the season, the junior walked him to get the inning started for the Bulldogs. Hitting .070, center fielder Justin Bryan doubled home Holder from second after he moved up on a wild pitch. Moving to third on a throwing error, Bryan scored on a sacrifice bunt to take a commanding 5-1 lead.
That's all Walsh would need as he cruised through five and two/thirds innings and struck out nine Auburn hitters before giving way to Luke Crumley. By that time Georgia had added two more runs in the fourth inning as Kendall again walked Holder to bring Dillon Ortman out of the bullpen. Allowing a double to Bryan and a single to Powell, Ortman couldn't hold the Bulldogs down as they led 7-1 through six innings.
Auburn would not threaten the rest of the way as a Kody Ortman single is all the Tigers had to show for the final four innings at the plate in the loss. Auburn managed just three hits for the game with Wacker and Self recording the other two singles.
The Tigers return to action Tuesday night at Samford before traveling to Mississippi State for a three-game series against the Bulldogs next Thursday-Saturday.