Photography :Wade Rackley

The Auburn Baseball Tigers Can't Overcome Poor Start

Auburn suffered its second loss of the baseball season on Tuesday at Plainsman Park.

Daniel Robert (above) led the Tigers with three hits vs. Samford.

Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn found itself in a 7-0 hole early in its last midweek baseball game against Florida A&M. A similar story unfolded at Plainsman Park on Tuesday as the Tigers fought back down 6-0 with a five-run fourth inning, but ultimately fell short 7-6 against the Samford Bulldogs.

The Tigers were down big before they even got a chance at the plate. Starting pitcher Daniel Sprinkle struggled. Samford scored six times in the top half of the first inning off of five hits.

Sprinkle’s day ended before he could even get back to the dugout with an inning pitched. He only went for a third of an inning. He threw 29 pitches and allowed earned six runs. He was replaced by junior right-hander Corey Herndon.

Auburn coach Butch Thompson got straight to the point in assessing what happened to his team that dropped to 7-2 with the loss. “Samford was ready to play and we were not, and punched us in the mouth really good. I do like the make up of our club. We kind of rallied and hung in there.”

Sprinkle’s replacement pitched better. Herndon threw an AU career high 3 2/3 innings and allowed three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

“I thought Corey Herndon did a good job--53 pitches is about where he has been for us,”?Thompson said. “He steadied it for us. We only gave up one (run) the rest of the way.”

Gabe Klobosits took the reins for Auburn at the start of the fifth inning. He lasted for 2 2/3 innings. He allowed five hits, a run, three walks and three strikeouts.

Auburn also struggled at the plate early, not recording a hit until the third inning. The offense finally showed up in the fourth inning.

Dylan Ingram led the charge by making it on base due to a throwing error.  He advanced to second as Bo Decker was hit by a pitch. Luke Jarvis reached first base on a fielder’s choice at Decker’s expense and stole second a few moments later. Mike Rojas was walked.

Auburn got on the board with shot from Will Holland to deep center field for a sacrifice fly that scored Ingram. Jonah Todd singled up the middle and brought Jarvis home. Jay Estes was walked the following at-bat and loaded the bases for Daniel Robert. The senior capitalized in the form of a base clearing double that brought Auburn within one at 6-5.

Thompson said, “Once you give up six runs in the first, as a pitching coach, you’re under the understanding that you can’t give up any more runs.”  

Auburn gave up one more as Samford added one more insurance run in the seventh. Troy Dixon singled and eventually was batted in by Taylor Garris to put the Bulldogs up 7-5.  

Thompson reflected on the loss after the game saying, “With two outs and two strikes and we didn’t execute a pitch.” 

Auburn made its final call to the bullpen in the seventh inning when the Tigers called on Calvin Coker. His 2 1/3 innings did not include a hit for Samford. Coker finished with two walks and two strikeouts.

“The team who wanted it more won,” Thompson pointed out, “Whenever you lose a game, it’s disappointing.”

The final half inning represented the Tigers’ last chance to erase Samford’s deficit. Robert, who was 3-4 at the plate, singled. Josh Anthony reached on a fielder’s choice. An Ingram fly out scored Estes and put the Tigers within one. A Decker strikeout was the final out of the game.

“Now that the game didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to and didn’t come all the way back, I hope this is the first chapter or the first time our team has to figure out, ‘were we ready?’ and we have to evaluate,” Thompson said. “I want every lesson to grow this ball club and Daniel Sprinkle knows he has to get better.” 

Sprinkle fell to 0-2 on the season as he picks up the loss. Tristan Widra, 1-1, earned the win for the Bulldogs, who improved to 3-4.

Thompson said, “We can be in every ball game if we execute, and we can lose ball games if we don’t.”

Auburn gets another chance to execute this weekend against Lipscomb with the first of a three-game series, Friday at 2 p.m. at Plainsman Park.

Auburn vs. Samford Box Score

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