The victory was Georgia's 12th in a row in SEC play while Auburn has lost 10 of its last 12 baseball games in league play and remain two games behind the Commodores and Vols in the race for the SEC Tournament. Saturday's loss also means that Auburn has lost every home series in conference play for the first time in the program's history.
Georgia pitcher Michael Hyle picked up his sixth victory of the season when he allowed just two hits in six innings while striking out six. Reliever Bo Lanier earned the save with three innings of two-hit pitching to close the door on the Tigers. Auburn starter Arnold Hughey pitched well enough to win, giving up just four runs on five hits in six and one/third innings. Reliever Michael Nix didn't allow a hit in two and two/thirds innings of relief.
Auburn Coach Steve Renfroe said the game was another example of a team not playing well at the moment. Whether it's a lack of offense, a lack of pitching or both, Auburn is struggling to make the plays and that's frustrating for everyone involved.
"I don't know what else to do but to hang on to hope," Renfroe said. "You can listen to all the naysayers or you can show up each day and battle and be men about it. That's all I know to do. It's easy to start pointing blame and making excuses, but you can't do that. We got beat by a better baseball team. We have to show up tomorrow and run our best guy out there and see if we can score some runs."
Catcher Mike Hyntka had two put-outs at the plate in Saturday's game. The second coming on a terrific throw from Clete Thomas to nail a would-be Georgia run.
Just like Friday night's game Auburn pitched well enough to win, except for one fateful inning. It was the first inning that spelled doom for the Tigers on Friday and Saturday's problems didn't arise until the third. That's when a little wildness cost Hughey in a big way. Left fielder Bobby Felmy doubled to lead off the inning and Kyle Keen walked to put a runner in scoring position. Following a sacrifice bunt shortstop Justin Holmes lifted a sacrifice fly into center to score the game's first run.
Unfortunately for Hughey that was just the beginning of the trouble. With two outs and two strikes on Marshall Szabo Hughey threw one just a little too far inside and it hit the second baseman to bring the big Morris to the plate. Working the count full, Morris sat on a fastball from Hughey and drove it deep over the left center field wall for a three run shot. Ahead 4-0, Hyle cruised until being pulled in favor of Lanier in the seventh when the Tigers mounted their only threat of the day.
Leading off the inning, designated hitter Josh Bell drew a walk and first baseman Derek Sain singled into right field to give the Tigers some hope. That was enough for Coach David Perno as he went to Lanier to face catcher Mike Hyntka. After failing to get a sacrifice bunt on the ground early in the count, Hyntka hit into a 6-4-3 double play that took the wind out of the sails of the Tigers.
Despite solid pitching the rest of the way from Hughey and Nix, Auburn couldn't make a run at Georgia and again suffered a home loss. Renfroe said that things just aren't clicking for his team at the moment.
"Mike Nix threw great, but it's like we're one outing off," Renfroe said. "Last weekend if we have that outing it's a win. It just seems like we're missing one step and usually that means it's a club that's not playing well. That's just a sign of what happens. We have to eliminate that and we'll deal with everything else later."
On the day Auburn managed just four hits with Chuck Jeroloman, Bell, Sain and J.T. Williamson all getting singles. Georgia wasn't much better with five hits, but one big blow was the difference in Saturday's game.
The Tigers will try to salvage one game of the series when they send ace Steven Register to the mound on Sunday. Register is 6-0 this season and it will be his second start. Auburn also has Chris Dennis available for duty out of the bullpen.