Auburn, Ala.--Leading 7-0 after two innings, the Auburn Tigers (10-5) fell flat on their face Friday as Presbyterian scored seven runs in the ninth to complete a come-from-behind 11-8 win over the Tigers at Plainsman Park.
Leading 8-4 going to the ninth, Auburn’s bullpen couldn’t get the job done as Presbyterian scored seven runs on eight hits as relievers Calvin Coker, Ryan Watson and Cole Lipscomb failed to hold the lead in the loss. With top left-hander Andrew Mitchell still unavailable until likely next week, Coach Butch Thompson said it didn’t leave them with many choices on Friday.
“You’ve got an 8-4 lead and got a chance with one out there in the ninth,” Thompson said. “We’re still a little bit short and I think it’s pretty obvious we’re trying to find a guy to get one or two outs. If we can find a way to get one or two outs the storyline is much different.”
It was fitting on a day when Auburn starter Keegan Thompson had his own share of struggles on the mound. Pitching two scoreless innings to push his scoreless inning streak to 23 to start the year, the junior never looked comfortable on the mound Friday as he allowed four runs on 10 hits in seven and one/third innings but still did enough to get a win.
For Coach Butch Thompson it was another disappointing loss as his team couldn’t take advantage of a fast start and failed down the stretch on the mound, something that has been an all-too-familiar trend early this season.
“I thought we came out swinging the bat really good from top to bottom in our lineup,” Thompson said. “Keegan got off to a good start, but I thought once we got seven runs, it could be right or it could be wrong, but we just didn’t keep the baseball in front of us defensively. We’ve done such a good job of that all year and I thought that opened the gates just a little bit and created a little more of a challenge throughout the ballgame.”
That should have still been enough to pick up his fourth win of the year after his offense staked him to a big early lead, but Presbyterian starter Brian Kehner recovered to retire 14-straight Auburn hitters following a leadoff single in the third inning and kept the Blue Hose in the game.
“I really tip my hat to the starter for Presbyterian,” Thompson said. “I thought that was another key to the ballgame and they didn’t walk a guy in the contest. They just kind of hung in there and waited for their opportunity.”
At the plate Bowen McGuffin led the way with three hits while Daniel Robert, Jay Estes, Dylan Ingram and Blake Logan all had two hits each for the Tigers. Robert’s three RBI pushed his season total to 15 on the year, but for him and the offense it was a disappointing day overall for the offense after a fast start.
The story of the game came down to just the top of the ninth inning. Leading by four runs following a Logan solo home run in the bottom of the eighth, Auburn sent Coker to the mound with a chance to secure the Friday night win.
Things started innocently enough with a single and a fielder’s choice putting a runner on second base with one out for Presbyterian. Eight consecutive batters would reach base for the Blue Hose to push across seven runs before freshman Elliot Anderson got a double play ball to end the inning.
Auburn will look to even the series on Saturday with sophomore Casey Mize taking the mound for the noon start.