Auburn, Ala.--The struggles at the plate continued for the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday as they managed just one run in a 4-1 loss to No. 9 Georgia Tech. That pushed the scoring streak to just two runs in the last 35 innings for Auburn’s offense and left Coach Butch Thompson scratching his head following the game.
Getting another quality start, this one from Andrew Mitchell, wasn’t enough for Thompson’s team to dodge its fourth consecutive loss to fall to 6-7 on the season. Going five innings, allowing just one run on four hits, Mitchell was the only bright spot of the game for the Tigers. Throwing 101 pitches and striking out five, he gave Auburn a chance to win on Tuesday but the lack of offense spoiled his outing. He has now allowed just one run in his last three starts with 16 strikeouts in 16 innings.
“I think at the end of the season it’s still going to be a strength of this ballclub,” Thompson said of the offense. “If we’re not scoring with the guys we all believe in and we think is the strength of our ballclub then it’s going to be tough.
“Andrew Mitchell, I think he got to 15 scoreless innings there,” he added. “A month ago I don’t know if I could have seen that. It’s a confidence boost to go out and play a team of this caliber and get four goose eggs.
“I can’t skirt around the lack of offense. I thought their innings were easy and when we’re pitching we’re having to grind through the whole inning. We have to create something that is tougher for our opponents and the last four games have been a challenge for us.”
Auburn managed just four hits as Georgia Tech starter Cole Pitts allowed just one run on three hits in five innings to pick up his first win of the year. He entered the game having given up four earned runs on nine hits in just six innings of work.
Despite getting four hits and earning a pair of walks the Tigers sent just 31 batters to the plate as Georgia Tech turned three double plays to kill potential scoring chances for an offense in dire need of something positive to happen. Thompson said right now it’s just a matter of putting in the work.
“I think the easy thing is for me to panic or the players to panic,” Thompson said. “I’m already starting to see a little lack of confidence. That’s kind of the easy way out, the woe is me or to just scream and yell. The hard thing is to be patient and keep believing in our guys knowing that we’ve got two good days of practice here.
“I’m going to take advantage of that,” he added. “We’re going to take the hard route. We’re going to try to go back to some basics and build them back up. The easy thing right now I think would just be to go berserk and throw your hands in your air. We’re going to take the hard route that will hopefully get us going.”
In the first Anfernee Grier got the Tigers started on a good note with a walk and a stolen base to quickly move into scoring position. Moving to third on a Jordan Ebert groundout later in the inning, Grier scored on a two-out single from Niko Buentello to put Auburn on top. It was Buentello’s SEC-leading 23rd RBI, but it would be a long day otherwise for the Tigers at the plate.
Rolling through the first four innings without a problem, Mitchell ran into trouble to open the fifth when Trevor Craport doubled down the left field line to put the Yellow Jackets in business. Moving to third on a wild pitch, Craport scored on a Joey Bart sacrifice fly to tie the game at one. One inning later Georgia Tech would get all the insurance it would need with Auburn giving them some help along the way.
Coming in out of the bullpen, Braymer walked the first batter he faced before getting a tailor-made double play ball to freshman shortstop Keaton Weisz. But the freshman couldn’t make the play, allowing both runners to reach safely. It proved to be huge as Bart ripped a double into left-center field to score both. He was thrown out trying to stretch it to third, but the damage was done.
In the seventh reliever Daniel Sprinkle allowed the final run of the game to Georgia Tech after giving up a pair of singles around a wild pitch. Izaac Yarbrough finished off the inning before giving way to Gabe Klobosits in the eighth to finish things off, but it was too late and not enough offense for the Tigers on this day.
Auburn returns to action this weekend with a three-game series against Oral Roberts. Game times are scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.