Cold-Hitting Tigers Fall To Gators 6-1

The Auburn bats couldn't get started on Sunday as the Tigers dropped the series finale to the Florida Gators 6-1.

Gainesville, Fla.--It was billed as a battle of Auburn's pitching against Florida's hitting, but the Gator staff stole the show on Sunday as starter Keith Ramsey pitched seven and two/thirds innings of shutout baseball on the way to a 6-1 Florida win.

That gave the Gators the series win as they improved to 24-6 overall and 6-3 in conference play on the year while the Tigers fell to 21-8, 5-4 in SEC play.

Auburn starter Colby Paxton was a match for Ramsey early and held his own until the fifth inning. However just like Eric Brandon on Saturday, he couldn't escape the fifth without damage. Brandon finished his day by allowing six runs on 10 hits while striking out just one Florida batter.

On the day the Gators pounded out 14 hits while holding the Tigers to just eight hits and one extra-base hit, a ninth inning double by Bobby Huddleston.

Early on it was a case of missed opportunities for the Tigers. In three of the first six innings they had the leadoff man aboard, but couldn't push a run across.

In the third, left fielder Sean Gamble led off the inning with a bunt single and then reached second base after a perfect sacrifice bunt by Chuck Jeroloman. That brought the top of the Auburn order to the plate in Javon Moran and Jonathan Schuerholz, but the duo couldn't come through as ground balls to second base and the shortstop put an end to the Auburn threat in the third.

The Tigers would again threaten in the fourth and almost got the first run of the day on one swing from the bat of Doug Vines. Already one-for-one on the day with a single, Vines lifted a fly ball to left field that rode the wind all the way to the wall. Reaching up, Florida's Aaron Sobieraj robbed Vines of his first career home run. That would not be the last disappointment for Auburn in the inning.

One out later, Trent Pratt walked and Scott Schade followed with a single to put runners on first and third with two outs. Once again the Tigers failed to deliver as freshman Tug Hulett grounded out to first base to end the inning leaving the game scoreless.

Florida threatened in the bottom half of the inning, but finally came through with some offense in the fifth. Designated hitter Mario Garsa was due up first and he lined one just inside the first base line that rattled around in the corner long enough for him to leg it out for a triple. Paxton got Pat Osborn to ground out to Schuerholz at third for the first out of the inning, leaving Garsa at third. He wouldn't stay there long though as Aaron Davidson doubled to left center to give the Gators another runner in scoring position. Catcher Brian Rose quickly took care of that as he singled to right field on an 0-2 pitch to score Davidson and give Florida a 2-0 lead.

That would be plenty for Ramsey as he continued to cruise through the Auburn order. In the top of the sixth he allowed a leadoff single to Schuerholz, but picked him off first base on the way to a one-two-three inning.

In the seventh, Auburn had yet another chance to get some runs on the board but just like they had done all day the Tigers came up empty. With one out and nobody on, Schade singled to left field. After a Hulett strikeout, Gamble was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs bringing Chuck Jeroloman to the plate. Unlike last Sunday when he came up with a big two-out hit, this time the freshman hit a fly ball to Sobieraj in left for the last out of the inning.

Things could have gone from bad to worse in a hurry in the bottom of the seventh if not for the pitching of Ken Clayton. Paxton started the inning and quickly allowed a Garsa double, Osborn single and Davidson single to make the score 3-0 and put runners on first and second with nobody out. With Rose at the plate, Paxton threw a wild pitch with ball one and was subsequently pulled in favor of Clayton. Facing an apparent no-win situation, Clayton came up big for the Tigers. In the hole to Rose, he came back to strike him out on three pitches and then struck out the next two Florida hitters to preserve the 3-0 deficit.

Clayton wouldn't be so fortunate in the eighth as the Gators would touch him for three runs. Reid Price came in to finish the inning, but not before Florida had a 6-0 lead heading to the ninth.

The Tigers would get on the scoreboard in the ninth inning thanks to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Schade that scored Huddleston, who had reached to lead off the inning with a double. That would be all for Auburn as it dropped a 6-1 decision to close the series.

The Tigers return to action on Tuesday night against Mercer at home at 6 p.m. in what is the first of five games in six days. They travel to Mobile on Wednesday to face South Alabama at 6 p.m. and then play host to the LSU Tigers for a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m.

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