Auburn, Ala.--Entering the game with a ton of momentum following a series win over Arkansas, the No. 5 Auburn Tigers couldn’t find the answer to Troy pitchers Max Newton and Cory Gill as the Trojans came into Plainsman Park and walked away with a 5-2 victory.
With the loss Auburn falls to 30-13 overall while Troy improves to 23-17 on the season.
Getting a pair of hits each from Jonah Todd and Jay Estes at the top of the batting order, Auburn managed just three hits from the rest of the team in the loss. That’s something that Coach Butch Thompson said he didn’t expect to see from his team on Tuesday night, but he said you’ve got to give credit to the Troy pitching.
"I just thought Troy out-executed us in every phase of the ballgame," Thompson said. "They had 14 hits and left 14 guys on base. With two strikes we just couldn't finish a batter and left pitches over the plate and they executed time and time again. It didn't seem like we got the leadoff guy on and we got out the same way over and over and over. Newton's change-up did a nice job and he threw almost half of the innings he's thrown the entire year.
"Then they went to the right-handed breaking ball and every time if felt like we were starting to close the game and do something it looked like we hadn't seen one before. I just thought getting out the same way over and over was (big), but again it comes down to execution and I thought's Troy's at-bats were better than ours. I thought they executed on the mound and at the plate much better than us tonight."
The story of the night was the pitching of Troy left-hander and true freshman Newton along with Gill out of the bullpen. Newton entered the game with only 10 ? innings pitched this season in seven appearances, but threw four scoreless innings before allowing a pair of runs in the fifth in his final frame. Throwing the final four innings, Gill allowed just two hits and struck out six to earn his fifth save of the year.
On the other side of the card was Auburn starter Christian Camacho. Entering with a 2-1 record and an ERA of 4.97, the freshman allowed four earned runs on nine hits in four and one/thirds innings to take the loss.
One positive for the Tigers was the pitching of freshman left-hander Elliot Anderson out of the bullpen along with senior Daniel Robert. Making his first appearance since March 8, Anderson allowed just two hits and no runs in one and two/thirds innings and showed velocity into the upper 80’s. Throwing the final two and one/thirds innings, Robert allowed just one hit and struck out two to keep Auburn within striking distance.
"Daniel Robert did a nice job with an extended outing at the end to kind of hold us there," Thompson said. "Elliot Anderson getting out in the ballgame, he hadn't been out there in a while and did a good job. He got in the ballgame and got us out of an inning and ended his outing on a strikeout. Hopefully that's something he can take and grow."
Early on it was all Troy as the Trojans got a two-out single to take the lead in the first inning off Camacho. With Auburn struggling to do anything offensively, Troy added to its lead in the top of the fifth thanks to one swing of the bat.
With one out Brandon Lockridge doubled to give the Trojans an opportunity to add to their lead. Trevor Davis then singled off the foot of Camacho to put runners on the corners for DH Jackson Cofer. Entering the game with just 13 at-bats and no RBI on the season, Cofer got a fastball and deposited it over the right field wall for a three-run bomb to make it 4-0 Trojans.
It took a while but Auburn finally got something going offensively in the bottom of the fifth to show some life and it all started with a two-out walk to Blake Logan. Singles by Bo Decker and Todd followed to bring Estes to the plate with a chance to do some damage.
Getting a pitch to handle, Estes ripped a pitch up the middle that Troy shortstop Matt Sanders couldn’t handle. The ball caromed into center field for a single to score two runs, but that would be all as a Robert ground ball ended the threat.
That would be the only time the Tigers would threaten as Troy added a single run in the sixth inning and turned things over to Gill out of the bullpen. He pitched three scoreless innings before Troy closer Marc Skinner’s perfect ninth inning for his 10th save of the year.
Auburn returns to action this weekend when the Tigers travel to Starkville to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a three-game series with the SEC Western Division lead on the line. Game times for the series are 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.