Oxford, Miss.--Starting pitcher Cole Lipscomb held up his end of the bargain, but the bullpen didn’t do the same for the Auburn Tigers as Ole Miss scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to break open a tie game and held on for a 6-4 win Friday night. Allowing just a pair of runs in six innings on six hits, Lipscomb gave Auburn (18-20, 5-11) a chance to win said Coach Butch Thompson, but they just couldn’t finish things off.
“Cole had a complete game against them last year,” Thompson said. “They hit one ball hard, the shortstop hit a ball hard that Anfernee (Grier) made a great play on and ran down in right field. Other than that they had a couple of hit-and-runs and a couple of humpbacks that fell in there. But he pitched marvelous, he pitched great.”
At the plate Auburn got a two-run home run from first baseman Niko Buentello as he, Jordan Ebert and Anfernee Grier all had a pair of hits for the Tigers in the loss. Struggling all night to score runs, the Tigers battled down the stretch and made things interesting in the ninth before leaving the bases loaded in the ninth down two runs.
“Right down to the last out we’ve got a chance,” Thompson said. “That’s the hump we’ve got to get over. That’s what we’re getting close to, hopefully it changes soon.”
Tying the game at two with Buentello’s blast in the sixth inning, Auburn had the momentum as Lipscomb pitched another scoreless frame in the bottom half of the inning. Going three up and three down in the seventh, the Tigers sent Gabe Klobosits to the mound in relief of Lipscomb and the big junior just didn’t have it.
After allowing a leadoff single, Klobosits stood on the mound with two outs and nobody on following a fly ball out and a caught stealing, but that’s when things would unravel in a hurry. Starting the rally, shortstop Errol Robinson doubled for the Rebels and scored moments later on a single to center field to put Ole Miss (29-10, 8-8) back in front.
Following a walk to put a pair of runners on base, back-to-back singles for Ole Miss added two more runs to the lead and brought Ben Braymer out of the pen. The left-hander got a ground ball for what should have been the third out, but Damon Haecker’s second error of the game allowed run number four of the inning to score for the Rebels as they now led 6-2.
“Cole was at 90 pitches and we went ahead and went with Gabe,” Thompson said. “He’s kind of been our hot hand lately and throwing the ball really well. Probably stayed with him a little too much, but at the end of the day our guys keep fighting. We probably didn’t make a pitch or two there in the seventh to create the four runs.”
In the top of the eighth Auburn responded as Ebert singled to start the inning for the Tigers and when Blake Logan doubled with one out it put runners on second and third with just one out. That brought Ole Miss closer Wyatt Short out of the bullpen for the Rebels, but Jackson Burgreen’s fly ball was deep enough to score Ebert to make it a three-run game. Following a walk to Haecker, Kyler Deese came to the plate with a chance to bring Auburn even closer but his pop up ended the threat for the Tigers.
In the ninth Auburn again put the pressure on as Cody Nulph reached on an infield single before Anfernee Grier laced a single as well to bring Melvin Gray to the plate. Already 0-4 on the night Gray walked to load the bases with nobody out. Ole Miss went to right-hander Will Stokes to face Ebert and the Auburn senior worked a walk to force home a run and cut the lead down to just two.
With the bases still loaded and nobody out it was all there for the taking for Auburn, but Buentello and Logan both struck out before Jackson Burgreen popped up to end the game.
“We didn’t get a hit with no outs and the bases loaded,” Thompson said. “That has kind of been our story. We keep fighting, but to take the next step we’ve got to make a pitch to limit damage and then somebody has to drive the baseball there and get us one more hit.”
The Tigers will look to even the series on Saturday as senior Justin Camp will take the mound for Auburn in the 2 p.m. start. Saturday’s game can be seen on the SEC Network.