Photo by Jason Caldwell

Auburn Falls Apart In 6-5 Loss At Ole Miss On Sunday

Freshman pitcher Casey Mize was the lone bright spot on Sunday as he pitched into the eighth inning before Auburn's bullpen blew a five-run lead in a 6-5 loss at Ole Miss.

Oxford, Miss.--Freshman Casey Mize had the best outing of his young career as he allowed just one  unearned run on four hits in seven innings as he pitched around five errors, but it wasn’t enough as Ole Miss scored two runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth to earn a 6-5 win over the Auburn Tigers (18-22, 5-13) and complete a sweep of the SEC baseball series.

Scoring four runs in the second inning, Auburn turned the ball over to Mize the rest of the way and the freshman almost made it stand up but in the end his defense did him and the Tigers in on Sunday. With errors forcing him to make extra pitches that meant Auburn’s bullpen came into play and that was bad news as Ben Braymer allowed a pair of home runs, the second a three-run shot to tie the game in the ninth. Gabe Klobosits then came on and allowed the winning run in the ninth.

“You have to play better baseball,” Auburn Coach Butch Thompson said. “You have to do things to deserve to win the baseball game and we didn’t do that this weekend here in Oxford. It’s looked climactic and like a come-from-behind deal, which they did, but we didn’t make pitches when we had to and we definitely didn’t make plays to extend Casey’s outing to give us a sincere chance.

“We got four runs in the second inning and that’s a lot of frames to extend this lead and change the complexion,” he added. “They got really deep in their bullpen and we didn’t keep fighting enough and score enough. I thought all three phases could have done a little more. Because of where it ends at the end of nine innings I’m not sure we deserved to win the ballgame today.”

Even with the mistakes in the field the Tigers led 5-0 to start the eighth inning before Mize gave way to Braymer after a Haecker error, the second of the day for the junior shortstop. With the errors forcing him to throw an extra 17 pitches on the day, Mize was at 110 and that brought Braymer in. After getting a groundout for the first out, Braymer left a pitch over the plate and Ole Miss third baseman Colby Bortles deposited it over the wall in right field for a two-run homer.

Suddenly with the momentum, the Rebels got a double from Henri Lartigue to put the pressure on the Tigers. Things looked like they would go from bad to worse for Auburn when Will Golsan dumped a ball into shallow center field, but a diving grab from Grier saved the day for the Tigers. Braymer struck out the next batter to keep the damage at just two with Auburn up 5-2 going to the ninth.

Unfortunately for Auburn that was just a precursor to what would happen on this day as the Rebels completed the comeback to take the win and the sweep of the series with a big ninth inning. It started with a leadoff walk from Braymer as shortstop Errol Robinson followed with a single to bring Ryan Olenek to the. Leaving a pitch over the middle of the plate, Braymer paid the price as Olenek blasted it over the wall in left for a three-run shot to tie the game.

That’s when Auburn’s defense would put the finishing touches on his loss as shortstop Damon Haecker booted a ground ball for his third error on the day and sixth for the Tigers. The other three errors came from third baseman Kyler Deese. One out later a Bortles single put runners on first and second for Lartigue and when he dumped a pitch into left-center field the collapse was complete for Auburn.

The day started out in a good way for the Tigers as they broke through with a big four-run inning in the second to give Mize some early breathing room. Hit by a pitch to start things off, Niko Buentello quickly moved to third on a Blake Logan double to put the Tigers in business early.

Following a Haecker strikeout, back-to-back doubles from Jackson Burgreen and Deese put the Tigers in front 3-0. Designated hitter Cody Nulph finished off the scoring for Auburn in the inning with a single just over the head of the Ole Miss second baseman to score Deese for the four-run outburst for the Tigers.

The Rebels threatened to get some of those runs back in the bottom of the second with back-to-back singles to start the inning. Recovering, Mize got a double play ball off the bat of Michael Fitzsimmons for two quick outs before retiring Kyle Watson to keep Ole Miss scoreless.

Two innings later Mize would again have to pitch out of trouble thanks in large part to his defense. Getting the first two hitters in the bottom of the fourth, Mize looked to be in good shape before the second error of the game on Deese gave the Rebels some life. Following a walk, the second error of the inning and third of the game on Deese loaded the bases for Robinson, but Deese would rebound to get the final out for the Tigers and keep the bases loaded.

With Mize still cruising, Auburn added to its lead in the seventh inning off reliever Dallas Woolfork when Grier doubled to start things. Moving to third on a wild pitch, the junior later scored on a double play groundout off the bat of Jordan Ebert to make it 5-0 Tigers, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Auburn returns to action on Tuesday at 6 p.m. when the Tigers take on South Alabama at Plainsman Park.

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