Auburn Falls 10-0 To LSU, Still In SEC Race

Auburn fell 10-0 to LSU on Thursday night, but both Georgia and Tennessee lost to keep the Tigers within a game of the SEC Tournament.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn Coach Sunny Golloway rolled the dice on Thursday night as he went with ace Dillon Ortman on just four days rest in the series opener vs. No. 8 LSU (38-14-1, 15-11-1), but the move didn't pay off as he lasted just two innings in an 8-0 Auburn loss. Allowing six earned runs on seven hits, the outing was the first time in SEC play this season that Ortman didn't go at least seven innings.

The loss keeps Auburn (28-27, 10-19) on the outside of the SEC Tournament with just two games left in the regular season. On the positive side is that Kentucky easily defeated Georgia to keep Auburn within a half-game of the Bulldogs while Florida beat Tennessee in 11 innings to keep Auburn within a full game of the Vols.

With LSU ace Aaron Nola on the mound Saturday it's a tough spot for Golloway's team but he said all they can do it focus on taking things one game at a time.

"He just didn't have it," Golloway said of Ortman. "His slider didn't have the velo (velocity) and his fastball didn't either. He didn't hit his spots very good and they lit him up. You have to give them credit. The first five guys in their lineup are very talented with the bat.

"Tomorrow they're going to have their big guy on the mound and we just didn't have it with Dillon tonight," he added. "It was a concern (bringing him back on short rest) because we hadn't done it, but you've got to do it. That's where we are. We had to try to create some momentum and we didn't. We are where we are right now. That was our best option, but when it got to be 6-0 there was no reason to leave him out there."

Offensively, Auburn was shut down by LSU starter Jared Poche. Just a freshman, he allowed just three hits in eight innings and struck out five Auburn hitters before giving way to Alden Cartwright in the ninth. He struck out all three Auburn batters he faced to finish off the win.

This one was over early on as LSU touched up Ortman for three runs in the first inning. Speedy Mark Laird started things off with a single and Alex Bregman doubled to put runners on second and third. Following a fly ball, Ortman walked Sean McMullen to load the bases for the heart of the LSU order. That proved to be a mistake as Andrew Stevenson doubled to center to score the first two runs of the game for the visiting Tigers. Tyler Moore finished off the inning with a run-scoring single to put Auburn in an early 3-0 hole. Golloway said that took the air out of his team early.

"Because it's Dillon Ortman," Golloway said. "Our guys are not used to that. If Dillon gives up one it's usually a disappointment, which he usually doesn't do. But three, it was pretty deflating to our guys. They fought and came in and were determined. There in the last inning it was ‘hey let's score 11 and leave them standing'. It's baseball. You do what you've got to do and if you don't execute you don't execute, and we didn't."

In the third LSU knocked Ortman out of the game as Jake Fraley singled to start things off with McMullen following with a single of his own. Trying to bunt both the runners over, Stevenson beat out a perfect bunt for a single to load the bases with nobody out. That was all for Ortman as Robby Clements came out of the bullpen for Auburn. He quickly gave up a two-run double to Tyler Moore to push LSU's lead to five before a groundout scored Stevenson. Clements recovered to get out of the inning but down 6-0 Auburn was in serious trouble.

A junior from Birmingham, Clements held LSU scoreless in both the fourth and fifth inning and it took that long for Auburn to get its first hit of the night off Poche when Damek Tomscha singled in the fifth inning. In the sixth LSU tacked on two more runs to officially end this one. In the ninth the visitors tacked on a pair of runs on three hits before Rocky McCord was able to get the final three outs. Clements was able to pitch six innings, allowing three earned run on seven hits, and saved Auburn's bullpen some valuable innings for later in the series.

Auburn will send senior Michael O'Neal to the mound on Friday against Nola in a true must-win situation. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Golloway said that freshman DH Daniel Robert is likely done for the remainder of the season because of meniscus injury. He will be evaluated more on Friday, but he stated they wouldn't take any chances with the freshman moving forward. With Bret Binning also banged up that doesn't leave Golloway with many options off the bench moving forward in the series.

"We would (make lineup changes) but (Matt) Holliday and (Albert) Pujols are not going to come to Auburn and they're not going to play. Binning is out, Daniel Robert is out, we think it's a meniscus. We're hoping it's just flared up, but tomorrow we're going to get some shots of it and find out for sure what's wrong with it. We can't take any chances with him. He's a freshman and he's young.

"We have a plethora of injuries and we didn't recruit (I say we because I'm Auburn's head coach) enough depth," he added. "We don't have enough guys pushing guys. You see the left side of that infield (LSU's Christian Ibarra and Alex Bregman) and that's what I'm used to seeing."

Click HERE for the stats from Tuesday night's game.

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