Auburn, Ala.--Shortstop Luke Jarvis had two hits, drove home two and scored three runs to lead the Auburn Tigers to a 6-4 win over Kennesaw State on Tuesday at Plainsman Park. Auburn scored two runs in the eighth inning to break open a tie game and senior pitcher Cole Lipscomb finished things off for his third win of the year as the Tigers improved to 10-4 with the victory.
On the mound freshman Davis Daniel got the start, pitching a pair of scoreless innings. Reliever Corey Herndon pitched five and one/third innings, the first five without allowing a hit, before Lipscomb finished things off. Coach Butch Thompson said it was a struggle but he saw some positives from his team coming off the disappointing 14-3 loss to South Alabama on Tuesday night.
"I was anxious to see how our team would respond," Thompson said. "You don't get anything back in baseball. I think anybody that has played enough baseball has had a day where just nothing went their way and you got manhandled a little bit. We only had one walk today and I thought our offense challenged and was pretty tenacious.
"Davis Daniel gets off to a good start with two innings," he added. "We wanted to see that instead of bullpens in the midweek to help him keep practicing the art of getting ready for a start. Corey Herndon was a warrior for us. He went all the way before he hit the wall and he was done for us. He did the lion's share of work on the mound today.
"Then Cole coughed it up and I thought he left the fastball up a little bit, but came back for the ninth and finished it off. I thought that was a good sign by him being able to come back and get the ninth."
Tied at four following a four-run inning for Kennesaw State in the top of the eighth, Auburn needed some late magic to pull out the win and it came thanks to some shaky defense from the Owls in the bottom of the eighth.
Leading things off, Jarvis continued his productive play by reaching on an error to give Auburn some life. Moving to second on a ground ball, the shortstop scored when Bowen McGuffin laced a single up the middle.
Following a Will Holland fly ball to right for the second out, back-to-back walks to Jonah Todd and Josh Anthony brought leading hitter Daniel Robert to the plate. Extending his on-base streak to 29 games earlier with a single, Robert worked a walk of his own to force home a run and give reliever Lipscomb a two-run cushion to work with.
One of the keys for Auburn offense, Jarvis said just bouncing back and playing well was a big step for this team as they continue to prepare for conference play in two weeks.
"It's huge," Jarvis said. "It told us a lot about our team today that guys were willing to put the past behind you. It does you no good to keep dwelling on it. Guys stepped up. Corey was awesome today and Bowen had a big hit. All in all, it was an outstanding bounce back from a tough game yesterday."
Auburn got the scoring started in the bottom of the second following a pair of scoreless innings from starter Davis Daniel. Not getting out of the first in his last start, Daniel had a smooth start to the game. That was a big positive said Thompson.
With one out Conor Davis doubled to start things for the Tigers and when Blake Logan smashed a double of his own off the left field wall Auburn led 1-0.
In the fourth the Tigers added to their lead and once again Davis got things started, this time with a single up the middle. Getting a pitch to handle, Jarvis raked it just inside the third base bag for a double. Davis scored on the play to make it a two-run lead.
Jarvis then did some work of his own to help produce a run. Stealing third base on the first pitch, Jarvis was able to trot home on a Logan sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. It was the 14th sacrifice fly of Logan’s career, good enough for fifth-place among active players in the country.
Jarvis then made it a four-run advantage in the bottom of the sixth with one swing of the bat as his blast to center field bounced off the top of the wall and over for his first home run of the season.
Now staked to a four-run cushion, Herndon pitched a fifth-straight hitless inning in the seventh but wouldn’t be as fortunate in the eighth. Getting the first batter of the inning, he allowed a Garrett Hodges single, the first of six-straight Owls that would reach base. A walk and a single followed to load the bases and bring Lipscomb out of the Auburn bullpen, but he wouldn’t fare any better.
Facing 2-3-4 in the Kennesaw State order, the senior allowed three singles to tie the game and put the go-ahead run on second base. With the pressure on Lipscomb delivered, getting a strikeout before Todd ran down a ball in center field to end the inning and set up Auburn for the late-game victory.
The Tigers return to action this weekend with a three-game series against Presbyterian at Plainsman Park. Game times are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday and noon on both Saturday and Sunday.
Tiger Ticket Notes: Auburn hasn't had pitcher Andrew Mitchell on the mound in seven games due to tendinitis in his throwing arm, but Thompson said they feel good about the left-hander heading into this weekend. They are hopeful he can get back on the mound without any problems against Presbyterian.
The prognosis isn't as good for senior outfielder Bo Decker. Suffering from a significant sprained ankle, Decker is out at least another week and could be longer according to Thompson.