Making his first start in nearly a month, senior Colby Paxton was looking to re-establish himself as a player in Auburn's pitching plans. Unfortunately for the senior things didn't work out for him on Tuesday as he failed to record an out in the first inning before being relieved by freshman Jared Shore. Leadoff man Eric Patterson going things going when he tripled to right field on a ball that Ben Sprague had measured before slipping down on the warning track.
The play would be a bad sign of things to come for Paxton and the Tigers as freshman Wes Hodges followed with a single up the middle to score Patterson and give the Yellow Jackets the early lead. Brandon Boggs then drilled a single to right field that brought powerful Micah Owings to the plate with a runner in scoring position. He did his damage to Auburn by drilling his eighth home run of the season over the left field wall to put Georgia Tech ahead 4-0 with still nobody out.
Paxton's night would come to a short end when he walked Steven Blackwood following Owings' home run. Shore came on and didn't fare much better against the Yellow Jackets. After getting Mike Nickeas on a fly ball Shore walked Tyler Greene to bring Clifton Remole to the plate. The left-hander hit a high hopper to Tug Hulett at second base, but the Auburn junior couldn't handle the ball and Blackwood scored to make it 5-0. A Whitt Robbins single, a fly ball from Patterson and another Auburn error allowed two more runs to score for Georgia Tech. Trailing 7-0 Auburn would answer back in the second, but Tiger pitchers struggled all night in keeping the Yellow Jackets off the scoreboard.
Josh Sullivan led the Tigers with two hits on Tuesday night.
Josh Sullivan led off the second inning with a walk and moved to second on a single by Josh Bell to left field. A single by Ben Maitland followed and just like that the Tigers had the bases loaded with nobody out. Sprague did his job with a fly ball to center that scored Sullivan to put Auburn on the board. Following a walk to Kyle Mayo that again loaded the bases, the Tigers would add their second run of the inning on a Sean Gamble fly ball to right field. Trailing 7-2 Auburn was looking to keep clawing at the lead, but Georgia Tech would have none of that.
In a perfect illustration of the night for Auburn, following a 24-minute rain delay Owings led off the second by lifting a pop-up onto the infield. The only problem was that Bell couldn't find the ball at first base. By the time the Tigers had come up with the ball Owings was on second with a leadoff double that failed to make it to first base. The Yellow Jackets would go on to add two more runs to their lead to move back on top by the score of 9-2.
The Tigers again cut the lead in the third with two runs, the second coming on a Sprague double, but three runs over the next two innings by the Yellow Jackets put the game out of reach heading to the fifth. Reliever John Madden finally kept Georgia Tech scoreless in an inning with a strong fifth, but it was all over but the shouting as the Yellow Jackets cruised to the 20-5 victory by scoring seven runs in the eighth inning, three more coming on an Owings' home run. It is the most runs an Auburn team has allowed since giving up 20 to LSU in 2001.
Both Sullivan and Sprague had two hits each for the Tigers as they managed just 10 hits on the night while Georgia Tech scored 20 runs on 18 hits. Spotty Auburn fielding on the night accounted for three errors, but there were several other chances for errors as two easy pop-ups fell on the infield. Madden and Chris Dennis combined to allow just one run in three and one/third innings of work. The two were the only Auburn pitchers on the night to give up less than two runs.
Owings and Blackwood each had three hits for Georgia Tech while Patterson, Hodges, Boggs, Nickeas and Remole all had two hits. Freshman Lee Hyde got the win for Georgia Tech on the mound, moving his record to 2-1. He gave up four runs on five hits in five innings of work.
The task doesn't get any easier for Auburn as the second-ranked LSU Tigers come to town this weekend for a big SEC Western Division showdown at Plainsman Park. Game times for the series are 6:30 p.m. on Friday night, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.