Led by the pitching of Parker Curry, Samford shut down the Tigers all night as he allowed five hits in eight innings and struck out seven on just 85 pitches to get his first win of the season. Reliever Andres Garcia finished things off in the ninth to secure the win for the Bulldogs (5-8) as Coach Casey Dunn improves to 11-11 against Auburn at Samford.
On the mound Auburn used five different pitchers on the night as the Tigers allowed just eight hits, but defensive struggles combined with five walks led to a rough night for Golloway’s club. While the pitching and defense were a huge problem, the second-year coach said every facet of the game was a letdown on Tuesday with the offense at the top of the list.
“It’s just one of those nights where a lot of things didn’t go right,” Golloway said. “Six errors on the scoreboard and I don’t want to know the last time I had a team commit six errors. Not only that, but they had 41 pitches thrown through five complete innings. That, I know for a fact, is the least amount of pitches an opposing pitcher has ever had to throw against a program we had the fortune of being in charge of.
“That can’t happen,” he added. “Our approach was not good tonight and there’s no excuse. It’s not because we walked four guys in the first inning and we were behind. We just didn’t have our focus tonight. To be honest with you, it’s not something that we’re glad happened, but it’s something we’re going to use because it’s going to make it a very teachable moment for us.”
The struggles for the Tigers started early as Kevin Davis got the call on the mound, but couldn’t find the zone and that led to trouble. Striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches, Davis proceeded to walk the next three Samford batters to bring Hunter Swilling to the plate. Continuing to have his problems, Davis walked his fourth batter in a row to force home a run. Left fielder Damon Waller then hit a ground ball to short that Nulph misplayed, allowing Heath Quinn to score and give Samford a 2-0 lead.
The Bulldogs added to their lead in the third, thanks once again to shaky defense from the Tigers. Starting things with a single to center field, Quinn moved to second base on wild pitch and when Davis’ pickoff attempt to second sailed into center field the third run of the game was 90 feet from home. All it took was a ground ball to give Curry a three-run lead to work with.
With their pitcher cruising through the Auburn order the Bulldogs went back to work in the top of the fifth and again much of the damage to the Tigers was self-inflicted. Leading off with a single. Samford center fielder T.J. Dixon was still standing on first base with two outs when Auburn completely fell apart.
At the plate, Samford third baseman Alex Lee hit a ground ball back to Auburn reliever Dalton Rentz on the mound. He knocked the ball down and went to his knees to secure the play, but his throw pulled Daniel Robert off the bag at first for yet another error for the Tigers. Another Nulph error put runners on the corners with two outs for Samford with Damon Waller at the plate.
Attempting a double steal, Samford forced a throw to second from Auburn catcher Blake Logan, but the return throw from Damon Haecker was wild. That allowed yet another unearned run to score. Waller then finished off the inning with a line drive to left field to score the third run of the inning for the Bulldogs and make it a 6-0 lead.
In the ninth Samford had a chance to break the game open as Dixon worked a walk off Will Thompson to bring DH Jared Watson to the plate for the Bulldogs. Getting a pitch to take to the right side, Watson dropped a double just inside the right field line to put runners on second and third for the heart of the Samford order.
Hitting Quinn to load the bases, Thompson got a strikeout before Swilling blasted a ball over the head of J.J. Shaffer in right field. Having to hold in case the ball was caught, Samford only scored a single run as Shaffer got the ball back in to hold Swilling to a very long single. Thompson recovered to keep the damage to a single run, but that gave Samford a 7-0 lead. Gracia shut down the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win for Samford.
Auburn returns to action this weekend as the Tigers travel to College Station to face the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies in a three-game series. Game times for the weekend are 6:35 p.m. on Friday, 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.
“It is the best thing in the world for us," Golloway said of going on the road to face the ranked Aggies. "It is exactly what the doctor ordered other than the Yankees and I don’t think they are going to play us. We don’t need to be playing another team that is 4-9 and come out half asleep.”
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