The story of the game was on the mound as seven Auburn pitchers combined to give up 11 hits while walking 12. Starter Kevin Davis lasted just one inning, putting the strain on a bullpen in the fourth game of the week. Junior college transfer Sam Mason took the loss for the Tigers, allowing three runs on two hits in just one/third of an inning.
At the plate Damon Haecker and Cody Nulph each had three hits for the Tigers with Anfernee Grier adding a pair of doubles to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Blake Logan, Alex Polston and Kyler Deese also had two hits as Auburn pounded out 15 for the game, but it wasn’t enough on this day.
“It’s really disappointing and the thing that stands out the most is that they had 11 hits,” Golloway said. “You’ve got to tip your cap to them that they had 11 hits, but we outhit them and had 12 walks. We walked their nine-hole (hitter) four times out of his five trips. I pointed that out to our team, 12 walks and then the two uncharacteristic errors there at the end in the eighth inning that they capitalized on. Good teams will do that. They’ll capitalize on your mistakes and we made those two right there. That’s 25 baserunners in a nine inning game. You do the math. You’re not going to win games giving up 25 baserunners because they’re going to score some runs.”
Auburn got the scoring started in the first inning as Grier took the first pitch he saw from JSU starter Jake Walsh and drove it off the center field wall for a double. Following back-to-back walks to Haecker and Jordan Ebert, Logan lifted a fly ball to left to easily score Grier for the first run of the game. Keeping his hot bat, freshman Hunter Tackett ripped a double to score two more and give Davis a 3-0 lead.
Hunter Tackett has been impressive as a freshman
It didn’t take long for the Gamecocks to answer back as they would knock Davis out of the game in the second inning without recording an out. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases for Auburn reliever Izaac Yarbrough to deal with. That didn’t work out well for the Tigers as a pair of walks sandwiched around a pair of singles led to a five-run inning for the Gamecocks before reliever Robby Clements got out of the inning.
Auburn tied the game with single runs in the second and third before the Gamecocks took the lead back with a run in the top of the fourth. Trailing 6-5, the Tigers would come out swinging for another big inning in the fifth.
Nulph and Polston singled to start the frame for the Tigers before Deese bunted both runners into scoring position for Grier. Continuing to swing the bat well, the sophomore crushed his second double of the game to score both runners and make it a one run lead for Auburn. Another Haecker single and a wild pitch allowed Grier to score before Logan finished off the scoring with a single.
Now with a 9-6 lead things looked good for the Tigers heading to the sixth, but this one was far from over. Getting a run back to cut the lead back to two, Jacksonville State completed the comeback in the eighth inning. With Mason on for his first career appearance for the Tigers, Jacksonville State got a pair of singles to bring Taylor Hawthorne to the plate with one out and that’s when Auburn’s defense would falter for the first time in the inning.
Getting a ground ball to the right side for what should have been the second out, Mason instead watched as Deese bobbled the ball for an error to load the bases. With still just one out that meant a call to the bullpen and closer Justin Camp was in for the Tigers. Almost automatic so far this season, Camp got a fly ball to center field off the bat of Elliot McCummings that should have been the third out of the inning, but it wasn’t even the second as Grier dropped it to allow Tyler Gamble to score.
Still clinging to a one-run lead, Camp struggled to find the strike zone as back-to-back walks to Ty Pierce and Paul Angel gave the Gamecocks a 10-9 lead and finished off a huge three-run inning. Auburn couldn’t make the comeback however as JSU closer Travis Stout closed the game out in the ninth inning to give his team the win to improve to 6-3 on the year.
Auburn returns to action Tuesday night when the Tigers travel to Montgomery to face Alabama in the Capital City Classic. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Riverwalk Stadium.